Union Monopolists Shield K-12 Sexual Predators

New York City Union Boss Michael Mulgrew
For decades, union bosses like New York City’s Michael Mulgrew have protected abusive teachers from termination. (Credit: UFT)

Job Security Furnished For ‘Outright Abusive’ School Employees

Since it began operations just five years ago, Chicago Public Schools’ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has substantiated violations of district policies prohibiting “sexual assault and abuse” and other related misconduct in more than 300 separate investigations.

At least “16 subsequent criminal charges have been filed” against adults affiliated with the school district “for sex-related crimes by prosecuting agencies.”

One such investigation determined that a teacher had “groomed and sexually assaulted a 17-year-old student on three occasions.” Despite the fact that the OIG’s finding was corroborated by ample evidence, including the teacher’s own statements in text messages to the girl, a jury ultimately acquitted him on charges of committing sexual assault.

Another probe found that a high school gym teacher had repeatedly exposed himself to an 11th-grade girl when they were alone together.

The student soon reported the incident to two other school employees, but “both of them failed to notify the school’s administration, as they were [legally] required to do.”

The OIG acknowledges that many alleged abusers continue to work in Chicago schools despite having been accused of sexual harassment or assault of students and being flagged with a “do not hire” label by district officials.

Failure to Remove Bad Apples Part of Big Labor-Dominated Schools’ ‘Larger Culture’

But the office attempts to downplay the gravity of the situation by noting there is no clear evidence that Chicago schools have a higher incidence of sexual assault than other school districts across the country.

National Right to Work Committee Vice President John Kalb commented:

“Unfortunately, it may well be true that the terrible record the OIG documents is normal for large government school systems. But why do school districts apparently find it even more difficult than other large institutions that deal with children to weed out from their workforces the relatively small number of people who are driven to sexually abuse minors?”

In a radio interview conducted a few days after the OIG’s latest annual report was released on January 1, former Illinois teacher Frank McCormick offered an explanation:

Union bosses and state labor laws that hand them monopoly-bargaining power to codetermine with school officials how educators are compensated and managed are a big part of the problem. In the words of Mr. McCormick, until recently a history teacher in Waukegan, an industrial suburb of Chicago, the education establishment’s failure to identify, punish and dismiss sex abusers is “part of an overall larger culture of adults protecting a system that gives them a paycheck.”

Mr. McCormick personally learned just how little union officials in his own district cared about keeping schoolchildren safe by observing how they dealt with allegations of gross misconduct by a fellow teacher and coach.

“Everyone knew” this man was “weird around girls,” he recalled. “People had reported it.” But it “was ignored” for years. Finally, the news broke that 50-60 female students had filed complaints about the coach’s inappropriate touching and demeaning comments (e.g., “Turn around and let me see what you’re working with”).

Union Brass Sprang to Defend Teacher After 50-60 Female Students Had Filed Complaints

Mr. McCormick figured the coach would finally be terminated. He was flabbergasted when he personally heard the then-vice president of the union local spring to the coach’s defense, while predicting he would keep his job.

In this particular case, Mr. McCormick went on to say, the offender did end up getting fired, despite Big Labor insistence that he was “misunderstood.” Though it did not come up on the radio that day, this termination was ultimately upheld by a state appellate court in 2020.

“Unfortunately,” said Mr. Kalb, “government union bosses in Illinois and across the country are all too often successful in appealing terminations of school employees who are ineffective, incompetent, and in some cases even outright abusive.

“This is one of an array of reasons why National Right to Work regularly assists legislative efforts to repeal state government-sector monopoly-bargaining laws, including bills introduced in Oklahoma and Utah this year.

“In the words of Frank McCormick, if the chronic failure of America’s Big Labor-dominated schools to protect children from sex abusers ‘isn’t an indictment of the system, and isn’t enough to wake people up, we’re in trouble.’”

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