When the AJC broke the Atlanta Public Schools cheating story, I told a colleague I'd be surprised if traditional public schools exist in 30 years.
I said that because:
- Advances in teaching technology will make it possible for kids, even poor ones, to learn from home or a nearby community center
- Public school transportation costs are huge
- Public school facility costs are huge
- Many public schools are not the kind of place the parents that pay property taxes want to support
Not everyone agrees with my last point, and that's OK, but recent trends ( principal cheating , teacher allows student sex in closet , school fights ) make me wonder if public schools are a safe environment for learning.
I am not alone.
Federal judges in Atlanta are trying to figure out if Huntsville, Ala., educators who used a 14-year-old girl as bait to catch a 16-year-old middle school student suspected of sexual harassment can be sued for her rape.
The girl, in 2010, complained after the boy asked her to have sex in a bathroom. The boy knew the bathrooms well because, as punishment for earlier offenses, he was providing janitorial services during his day of learning.
A female teacher's aide hatched the idea of using the girl as bait to catch the boy having sex on campus. The aide testified she told administrators of the plan, but administrators say they were not properly informed.
The girl initially refused to take part in the plan but later said she would meet the boy as requested.
The girl was told to meet the boy in a specific school bathroom, but the boy took her to a different location and the girl was sodomized, according to AL.com.
Despite physical tests that showed anal tearing, the incident was entered in school records as "inappropriate touching."
Local prosecutors decided not to press charges because, they said, there was no forcible coercion, even though the girl immediately told the school she had been raped and she was bleeding.
The Madison County school system says they are not responsible since school administrators were not involved.
The U.S. Department of Justice, who is helping represent the girl in a civil suit, disagree , arguing the school failed to provide a safe environment for female students as required under the federal Title IX act.
The girls' attorneys said there was clear evidence the boy was a danger because he had racked up 15 discipline records in 15 months, though the exact numbers are in dispute because school administrators shredded documents.
"Five of those [incidents] were sexual in nature and four were violent," said a federal civil right attorney.
Despite the boy's record of trouble he was "unsupervised" at the school.
The federal judges wanted to know why the school did not at least provide the girl counseling after the incident.
"What did the school do for her after the rape?" asked Judge Frank Hull (who is a woman despite having the name Frank).
An attorney for the school system answered: "The only thing I can point to is provide educational opportunities."
The girl left the school within six weeks, so she didn't get much help with her education either.