The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

June 5, 2013

Issue of trust

The Register-Herald

— Historically, teachers have been some of the most trusted people in any community.

We entrust our children to them for many hours each day while school is in session.

Our kids spend more time with the faculty of their school than with their own parents in the evening, sometimes.

There’s a great responsibility placed on our teachers. They’re preparing our children for their future by equipping them with a quality education.

But sadly, some are taking advantage of their position of authority.

A recent rash of reports of sexual misconduct is disturbing.

Raleigh County Board of Education members will discuss at their board meeting next Tuesday whether the employment of a Woodrow Wilson High School teacher should be terminated, a male teacher who allegedly had an inappropriate relationship with a female student.

There are also allegations that a female Trap Hill Middle School teacher sent inappropriate and sexually explicit texts to a 13-year-old male student in February.

The criminal trial for a former Independence Middle School science teacher charged with two counts of possession of material visually portraying a minor in sexually explicit conduct has been rescheduled for Aug. 19. He was arrested for soliciting a minor via computer after the mother of a former female student reported online exchanges between the teacher and her daughter.

It’s not confined to Raleigh County.

Former North Marion High School freshman cheerleading coach Amanda Jo Barker, pleaded guilty at a hearing in Marion County Circuit Court last month to three charges involving sexual misconduct with a minor. The three counts involving sexual misconduct with a minor represented three victims.

Of course, the great majority of our teachers exhibit excellent behavior, and are of good moral standards. We must not paint all of them with the same brush.

Hopefully a few bad apples won’t spoil the bunch.

But it does reflect badly on the profession when a significant amount of teachers cross the line, as reports are indicating.

Teachers guilty of misconduct with students need to be held responsible.

School authorities, principals and our boards of education need to make sure that this behavior is not tolerated on their watch.

This is just not immoral behavior, nor is it something to wink at.

It’s criminal when preying on a minor.

We must be confident that when we send our children off to school that they’re going to be safe from harm, especially from the very ones that we’re depending on to provide that safety and education.