It’s strange to say that school scandals have become almost commonplace. The general public tends to reel with shock following the reporting of a large-scale scandal, regardless of whether it takes place at an elementary school or a university. After the story is reported, everyone has a reaction whether angry or disgusted, and everyone has an opinion, wringing their hands over Facebook, Twitter, or posting their “oh my gosh” faces on Instagram for tasty, tasty likes. Many of the worst scandals have been in recent years, ranging from the disappointing to the disheartening. Once brought to light, these scandals have brought many an institution to shame, whether the acts were committed by faculty or students left to their own devices. Here are five of the worst educational scandals to hit the headlines.
1. El Paso Cheating Scandals
In many places, standardized testing has the ability to make or break schools. Scores can get a school closed down by the district, taken over by the local government, or even lead to educators losing their job. One superintendent, located in El Paso, Texas, decided to give himself a little job insurance by making those pesky “failing students” magically disappear on testing day, for six years. El Paso superintendent Lorenzo Garcia even went as far as to discourage students from enrolling in school, and transfer low-performing students in his district to charter schools. Truant officers were sent to the homes of some of these students, and instructed them to remain at home on test day. The damage caused to the esteem of many of these students appears irreparable– many of the turned-away students have failed to return to any educational system. Mr. Garcia later received a three-year and six-month sentence in federal prison.
2. Texas State School “Fight Club”
In one of the more bizarre cases on the list, a state-operated school in Texas fell into hot water in 2010 when it was found that a group of employees were running a strange, secret “Fight Club”. In it, mentally handicapped and disabled residents were forced into cage matches on school grounds while employees took bets on who would win and recorded the illicit matches on their cell phones. After the story made news, the school responded by implementing a much more strict background check policy. The employees involved are currently serving sentences in prison.
3. Amherst College Cover-Up
Amherst College, located in Massachusetts, received immense backlash in 2012 after a few students revealed the high-profile school has a nasty habit of covering up student rape incidents and brushing off students who claim to have been raped. One such student, when interviewed, mentioned that a school administrator blamed her for the rape and suggested she “take a year off” while the rapist was allowed to graduate from the school with honors.
4. Steubenville Rape Case
The so very embarrassing “second worst scandal” award goes to a school in Steubenville, Ohio that has been accused of dragging its feet in disciplining a football team accused of rape. According to reports, an unconscious 16-year-old female student was carried from party to party by her wrists and ankles and raped several times while passed out drunk. The school drew further ire when one of its students posted a video mocking the incident, shortly after the controversy made headlines. Of course, shortly afterwards, the Internet’s friendly neighborhood hacktivist group Anonymous posted the video-making student’s address and personal information to the web, then turned up at an action-demanding rally held by Steubenville’s outraged residents. As always, the group sported their usual Guy Fawkes masks en masse.
5. Los Angeles Elementary School Sexual Abuse Scandal
Steubenville was knocked down to second place by this horrific scandal, which took place within the Los Angeles school district. Apparently the district paid off teachers who had been accused of sexually abusing their students, some of which were in elementary school. In one extremely demented and stomach-turning case, the district paid $40,000 for a teacher to resign after it was found that he’d been making a game out of feeding his 6 to 10-year-old students his own ejaculate. The worst part is that the abuse could have been avoided if the school had done a proper background check on the teacher, who had previous infractions on his record.
The school has responded to the outrage by replacing nearly all of its staff, implementing tougher background checks, and trying to assuage the fears of parents in the district.
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Doug Hester is a school administrator and guest author at Best Education Degrees, where he has contributed articles about top-rated online education degree programs.