Does the public school system have a serious child sex abuse problem? Some experts and lawmakers say yes.
In Kansas City alone, three area teachers have been charged with serious sex crimes in just the last two weeks. They join a shockingly long list of this year’s misbehaving teachers, arrested at a one-per-day clip.
The latest in Kansas City is Shawnee Mission North High School math teacher and girls swim coach Alexander Morris, 32, charged with five felony counts of sexual exploitation of a child, according to court records. He was arrested on Wednesday around 11:30 a.m. and is being held on a $150,000 bond, according to the Kansas City Star.
A special board meeting was called by the school district on Wednesday evening to consider the teacher’s termination, which was approved in only 15 minutes.
“As this is both an ongoing legal matter and a personnel matter, I am very limited in what I can say,” district spokesman David Smith wrote in an email to The Star. “The investigation is being conducted by an outside law enforcement agency, and we are not privy to the details of their investigation. As the safety of our students is our highest priority, we acted as quickly as we could to remove him from the classroom, based on the information we were given.”
Last week, two other area teachers were charged with similarly appalling crimes.
Steven Mesa, 47, a former physical education teacher and wrestling coach at Olathe Northwest High School, was charged with three counts of unlawful sexual relations, according to court records, allegedly involving a student. According to local media, the alleged crimes took place over the summer. He has since been fired.
Jason Carey, 42, a former substitute teacher in the Belton School District, was charged with at least four crimes: child enticement, second-degree child molestation and two counts of giving, or trying to give, pornography to a minor, according to local media.
The alarming frequency of such cases has education experts and observers such as Christopher Rufo, fellow at the Manhattan Institute, concerned. Rufo has been sounding the alarm about this issue all year.
“The public school system has a serious child sex abuse problem,” Rufo told Fox News Digital. “The last significant federal study on this topic, which was conducted by the Department of Education in 2004, suggested that millions of American schoolchildren are victims of teacher sexual misconduct in each generation of K-12 students – and there hasn’t been any significant research since then.”
He argues part of the problem is that teachers’ unions and most mainstream media are sweeping the issue under the rug.
“The basic fact is incontrovertible: Every day, a public school teacher is arrested, indicted or convicted for child sex abuse,” he explained. “And yet, the teachers’ unions, the public school bureaucracies, and the left-wing media pretend that the abuse isn’t happening and viciously attack families who raise concerns.”
As reported previously by The Lion, a Department of Education report in June claims a major contributing factor to the problem is “passing the trash” – when sexual abusers leave one district for another quietly, opening the possibility of more abuse.
A quiet resignation in another Kansas City-area school district in August raised just this frightening possibility.
According to the Department of Education report:
- Only 19 states require employers to request information from prospective hires’ current or former employers.
- Only 14 states require prospective employers to investigate applicants’ certifications or employment eligibility.
- Only 11 states require applicants to disclose information related to investigations or discipline involving sexual misconduct or abuse.
To address these gaps, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, proposed a bipartisan provision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to demand more accountability from schools.
“The Department of Education … has continued to extend ESEA funding to states who have failed to properly safeguard students from sexual predators, which is in violation of this funding requirement,” Toomey wrote in a February 2022 letter with Sen. Joe Manchin to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.
After the June report from the Department of Education was released, Toomey issued a written statement:
“Any educator who engaged in sexual misconduct with a child should be barred from ever teaching in a classroom again, yet too many states do not have policies to ensure that is the case. Releasing this report is only the first step – the department must hold states accountable and use the tools at its disposal to enforce the law.”