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Springfield R-12 Molestation Case Big News

Or is it? If you read the News-Leader, watch local television news or listen to the aptly-named Cracker Barrel radio show, you already know about the Rountree Elementary molestation case. (Actually, I'm only guessing local talk radio is having a hayday with this one - haven't tuned in.) There was also some new information in Chatter regarding the Monday arrest of a male physical education teacher from Rountree.

The News-Leader and KSPR33 News were eager to stir the pot with this story. I understand KSPR, despite the fact that the teacher had yet to be charged, couldn't resist releasing his name and airing his mugshot to their meager audience. Meanwhile, cub reporters from the N-L newsroom were leaving messages on Rountree parent phones, begging for "any kind of information" on the case. No wonder a local teachers group, in a letter to members, has characterized the media handling of this case (and the alleged abuse case at Bissett Elementary) as a media-driven "public lynching".

The fact is, the suspect was arrested on Monday and released without charges on Tuesday, yet in that one twenty-four hour period, his teaching career hit the wall, regardless of guilt or innocence.

In a letter sent to Hickory Hills parents, where the suspect also taught elementary PE, superintendent Norm Ridder assured parents that R-12 will "make every effort to insure that students . . . are safe and that the district's personnel treat our students in a safe and appropriate manner." He referred any questions to the building principal at Hickory. It is interesting to note that a similar letter to Rountree parents referred inquiries to an administrator instead of the current building principal. My guess is that the Rountree principal is perhaps in hot water for violating the mandated reporter law.

As a school teacher, I can tell you first hand that the wrath of one irate parent can literally bring everyone - administrators, psychologists, counselors, lawyers - to the table for some excruciatingly meaningless breast-beating. Some parents will stop at nothing, short of actually caring for their children on a daily basis, to demonstrate their undying love. There isn't an experienced teacher out there who hasn't been stretched through the ringer by an irrational parent. This is the flip side of teaching that doesn't make the front page.

I once spent a ridiculously wasteful two weeks attending meetings trying to calm down the parents of a boy who claimed I had made a joke about his dog's death while he was absent (but somehow no other student in attendance heard anything). I wrote in this space last summer of the special ed teacher who was nearly run over on the sidewalk by an angry mother behind the wheel. I recently attended a parent/teacher meeting where a black mom strenuously objected to the fact that her daughter's white teacher looked at her too much during a class discussion of Black History Week. I could go on.

SPD says their investigators have identified six victims of molestation at Rountree. If that's true, it's hard to believe that many kids could be fabricating everything. Rountree parents will hold a closed meeting with police officials on Monday to learn more about the ongoing SPD investigation.

Of course, all this comes at a time when R-12 is trying to muster support for a school bond issue. Great timing.

Oh, and welcome to Springfield, Dr. Ridder.


Jacke said…
Goodman, that IS <<< the way the media and press works, isn't it? Why would you think that public school teachers would be treated differently than any other citizen?

I disagree with most of your politics, I disagree that more money needs to be thrown at the public schools in Springfield and I think that public schools, generally, just suck.

YOU, however, I do find amusing. That's why I keep checking in.

RSmith said…
Yeah, yeah. When it's something you oppose, it's "throwing money". When it's something you support, it's an investment. Like the $300 billion we're "investing" in Iraq, right? I don't believe I said anything about funding public schools anyway, except to say this is bad timing for their bond issue.
I was merely pointing out that the teacher has not been charged with any crime and that some of the local media are jumping the gun - KY3, the N-L and KOLR/FOX are withholding his name until he is charged.
Jacke said…
So, would you agree that NO citizen should be named until they are actually CHARGED with a crime or does this only apply to members of the teacher's union?

This sort of thing happens every day, all over the country, doesn't it?

I just found it a little whiney that you'd fuss about it when it happens to a teacher and ignore it under all other circumstances.

Springfield media did it even to it's Sheriff when he didn't toe the line on a bond issue the Prosecuting Attorney was pushing, do you remember that?

You are paying far too much attention to my comment about public schools, yes, based on your comment about the bond issue, than the real issue of the news media getting out there to condemn people prior to charges even being drawn.

I don't care for the record public schools have on educating students, Goodman. I know that you think all teachers are perfect, or at least as close to perfect as possible, and should be given every conceiveable break.

Up, up with Teachers......

Impeach Bush....

Isn't that how it goes?

Your double standard is what grieves me, though not too much. I also recognize that everyone, myself included, is somewhat hypocritical. Your reaction is a human one, I just feel that we could all work harder to promote that sentiment ACROSS THE BOARD, rather than only reserving it for the party or union members we happen to agree with, that's all. ;)
RSmith said…
First, this teacher is not an NEA member - probably wishes he was at this point. I worked in the same building with him for several years, but we were in different wings. He seemed like a nice enough guy - a typical coach dressed in sweats all the time. Of course I'm going to perk up when a teacher is publicly judged by the community for a serious sex crime before he is even charged with anything. If you think real hard, Jacke, you might be able to figure out why - and no names should appear in the media until charges are filed. I think that is policy with most reputable media outlets (that would exclude KSPR33). No, I don't think all teachers are perfect. I'm lucky to work with some outstanding professionals who sincerely care about their students' welfare and take their jobs very seriously. And Jacke, some of them are diehard Republicans. We team up just fine - it's not always about politics.
Jacke said…
That's nice to hear, Goodman. Your raise should be coming through before the end of the year shouldn't it? ;)
goodman said…
I see that Dee Wampler is representing the teacher in question. God, are there not any better defense attorneys in this town?
Jacke said…
I realize this is somewhat off topic, but would like you to understand why I have problems with your stance that we shouldn't support vouchers for education, instead putting all the money in public schools. John Stossel gives a clear voice to my opinion here:
RSmith said…
Jacke, I read the Stossel article, and nowhere in it did I see anything about how public schools "evade accountability". My god, we are testing these kids like robots to establish some kind of imagined accountability. Why can't somebody step up and admit that true accountability begins at home? Why do so many people blame the schools for shortcomings in our society? Here's a question for you . . . at my school, we have a lot of ESL students - kids from China, Vietnam, Mexico, Romania, Bosnia. Almost all of the foreign students are excelling in math, social studies, science - and I mean 90% of them. Some are still learning English and have only been in the states a year or two, yet they they consistently lead their classes on test performance, assignments and class participation. Some come from less than ideal family situations, yet the vast majority of them are any teacher's "dream students".

How is it that they consistently excel at academics, and outperform that vast majority of their American classmates, despite the obstacles of language and culture?

By contrast, I'd estimate that from 50%-60% of my "American" students are below grade-level expectations and are fading with every passing year. A growing segment of American students are completely unmotivated regarding their own education. I can accurately characterize a growing minority as passive, spoiled, disrespectful, arrogant, ignorant and lazy - and many of them treat their parents like indentured servants. They possess miniscule vocabularies, cannot write coherently and seem almost completely detached from the world they will inherit in just a few years. It's almost as if they are waiting to be discovered for fame and fortune, or expecting to win the lottery. They could tell you virtually anything you would want to know about pop culture - video games, television programs, rap "musicians", fashion trends, chat room lingo, recreational drugs - but are woefully ignorant of the world in which they live. Did the public schools cause the deterioration of the family, the work ethic and American society? People are looking for easy answers, and attacking public schools is pretty damn easy. I wonder how long Stossel would last in today's classroom. He should try it sometime.
Jacke M. said…
Goodman, I certainly agree with you that society has undergone some changes which have effected the attitudes and outlook of our children. Of course parents must take some responsibility for those attitudes. The causes of our society taking this route are many and are complicated, another thing that they have in common is that they are mostly liberal ideas.

While I, like you, will not excuse the parents, that is not an argument to support public schools and answers few of the issues that Stossel discussed. It is a change of's as though you are saying that "no, the children are not learning as they should in public schools, BUT..." But it's the parents fault, but we don't have enough money...but, but, but, instead of fessing up to the fact that the public schools, whose JOB DESCRIPTION is <<< the educating of our Nation's children, is not performing adequately. Instead of deflection and pointing the finger back at the family why don't you and other teachers try to figure out what you could do better, how you could be more successful? Respectfully, if our current public school education process was working there would not be such a NEED for the testing under the NCLB Act that you appear to despise. It was implemented because there was an EXISTING problem with education, it is a REACTION to a growing problem.

For one thing...instead of worrying about Kindergartners learning about Aids, as is being promoted in some schools today, why aren't they learning the basics about those NUMBERS necessary for excelling in math, about those LETTERS necessary for reading and comprehension? I mean, more and more of the time we are hearing about teachers teaching more on the subject of their own politically activist ideas and ideals than they are about the three "R's."

Public schools have become or are beginning to become indoctrination institutions rather than educational institutions. And what are they being indoctrinated into? More of those liberal ideals wherein they are taught that life is *fair,* that everyone should be entitled to the same, regardless of whether they can afford the *same* or not.

When I was growing up there was a cliche I heard over and over again, "nobody ever said life was fair," life isn't fair but children are, as I was trying to point out, being taught and indoctrinated into the very mindset which brought our society to the state it is in now.

Thank you.
RSmith said…
I'm sorry, Jacke. I should have known better than engage in dialogue with you on this subject.

Let me just say that, in my opinion, you are categorically wrong to portray public schools as institutions that indoctrinate children to follow some imagined liberal agenda. Is this what Rush says?

For the record, I specifically avoid the subjects of politics and religion, as do almost all other teachers I know (none of the kids are interested anyway). I'm reasonably sure that none of my students have any inkling of my poltical leanings or religious beliefs, and it's not part of my job description to try to sway them one way or the other. I teach math relentlessly, every day.

Jacke, we can have fun arguing politics all day, but this is a subject near to my heart. With all due respect, this glib, simplistic commentary on public education only reveals your own political indoctrination.

I'm curious. Do you have any kids in school now? Ever?
Citizenkan said…
"God, are there not any better defense attorneys in this town?"

ANY defense attorney would be better than Dee! (And if you know this teacher, I'd tell him to RUN from the screwing he's going to take from Dee.) Or did an insurance company assign Dee to the defendant?

Ask any credible attorney in this town what they think about Dee Wampler. Have you ever read his book, "The Trial of Christ?" He claims he wrote it. There are several lawyers in town who could show him to be the liar that he is.

But other than that............
RSmith said…
Does Dee imagine he is JC's defense attorney? I think I've heard of it. I've got an old springfieldian article about Wampler - back when he was trying to rally the faithful against inserting the word "tolerance" in a community goals thing. It was, of course, a useless document and is long forgotten, but Wampler found a forum. Oh, and there's also a book review of another book Wampler authored, "Defending Yourself Against Cops". The glossary, alone, is a great laugh.
Jacke M. said…
Dear Mr. Goodman,

I read your reply several days ago and have been considering it.

I understand that it is a subject near and dear to your heart, however, that is only more reason that you should address the issues that have been raised by John Stossel's article and prior news story on the news magazine show "20/20".

It should have been clear to you that I am more conservative than you politically from the day that I started commenting on your site, it seems as though by the use of the words "politically indoctrinated" that you leveled at me that you are trying to diminish my thoughts and belittle them by suggesting that I have been brainwashed by a particular political doctrine rather than having legitimate reasons for holding the opinions I hold.

It may be true that you do not discuss politics and religion in your classroom, I also do not doubt that there are dedicated teachers across the Nation who do not, however, there seems to be a growing trend among public schools and universities in America to indoctrinate students into a more "liberal" political philosophy. You keep up on the must have read or heard about all the recent cases of just that sort of thing.

If you do not want to discuss the issue with me that is just dandy, Mr. Goodman, however, don't pretend that it is anything more than a cop out. Since you DO have a vested interest in the subject and it is near and dear to your heart I would think you would want to communicate the reasons why you think that competition, in the form of vouchers so that parents could afford to send their children to private schools if they so chose, is somehow detrimental to our society and it's educational system. I believe competition is good. Please explain why it is good in nearly every other area of our society but not good when it comes to educating our children?

Further, it is unimportant whether I have children in the public schools or ever have, that does not preclude me from having a valid opinion, does it, Mr. Goodman? Why would that be, at all, relevant?

Thank you.
Jack said…
Hey Goodman,

Did you see the News-Leader today (June 6)? The incident involving the child with Cerebral Palsy who was made to crawl up stairs was unsubstantiated.

Jack (as in Fat Jack)
Goodman said…
Yes, I did. And did you notice that the News-Leader, where the story first appeared amid great public outcry, gave us the headline "Parents Outraged . . " instead of "Teacher Exonerated". They seem to have no sense of ethics on this - the issue never would have seen the light if it weren't for Sara Overstreet's little bit of exploitation. She should be ashamed of herself.

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