June 25, 1998
To the Editor,
In the Supreme Court's decision to essentially immunize school districts from libility for the sexual abuse of students by teachers Title IX is called a contract "between our government and the recipient of funds". Children seem not to be a part of this contract.
The National School Boards Association had warned the court that anything less than the near impossible standard of actual knowledge would have a "devastating financial" impact on public schools. Again children seem not to be a consideration.
Money, however, is only one possible outcome of a legal action against an institution that has not protected those in its care. A condition of many civil court settlements is that the school agree to rectify situations that had served as blatant opportunities for the seduction and betrayal of students. For systems seeped in denial such an impetus to establish preventative measures is critical.
The U.S. Supreme Court's decision to deprive educator sexual abuse victims of their legal right for recource against school districts almost pales as we begin to realize all that the public at large has been denied. Without the weight of legal action to expose institutional hypocrisy, collusion, and political self-interest, society is left without a vehicle to scrutinize the trustworthiness of its children's schools.
The Court's interpetation of Title IX results in more than financial protection. The blanket has been tucked in tight. The carpet that covers up has been nailed down securely. The schools are free to fumble and blindside, ignore and condone. Students may or may not be at risk. Who's to know?
"Actual knowledge" is going to continue the public's not knowing. The consideration of dollars before the well being of children, however, is very telling, indeed!
Mary Ann Werner, Founder
SESAME, Inc. (Survivors of Educator Sexual Abuse and Misconduct Emerge)
681 Rt 7A
Copake, NY 12516