cellucciThis is a story that appeared in the RGJ on April 6th of a 37-year-old high school drama teacher, Sabrina Cellucci who was sentenced to 20 days of house arrest for failing to report a sexual assault perpetrated on one of her 14-year-old male students while on a nonschool-sponsored field trip by a male friend serving as a trip chaperone. Cellucci, who is also the mother of a young son, tried to persuade the young man that he had merely dreamt the episode after he confided the January 2006 incident to her that he had been awakened by fondling and quietly encouraged to remove his underwear.

The perpetrator, Jacob Heckman, 28, is a close friend of Cellucci’s; a former student, and godfather to her child. Heckman pled guilty last year to lewdness with a child; sentenced to 90 days in jail, and mandated to register as a sex offender.

The victim’s mother said the she was “disgusted” that Ms. Cellucci was allowed to keep her teaching job, and thinks this sends the wrong message to teachers, the school district, and the community at-large. “This tells teachers it’s okay to do this and they’ll have job security.” The mother said.

School district spokesman Steve Mulvenon said the “school’s [Reno High] investigation led officials to discipline Cellucci, but that her behavior did not rise to the level to warrant termination.” She was transferred to Hug High School. I strongly doubt that had this incident been perpetrated against a young woman that the district’s position would have been as placid.

Which brings me to another story I read this week which was pointed to by Prevention Works’ McGruff the Crime Dog® who pointed to an April story run by the Washington Post that is pretty much of an indictment of the school system culture across the country: “…a historical culture of downplay, deny, deflect and defend when it comes to publicly acknowledging and reporting school crimes.” Say’s Kenneth Trump, a national authority on school safety who testified recently before the US Congress.

It’s driven, many experts say, by an overarching concern among school principals to protect their image and that of their school. “… As in much of the nation, comprehensive reportage on weapons, drugs and sex in individual public schools simply don’t exist.” [WaPo]

These are the people we entrust with our children and expect accountability from!


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