Reading the Sunday News-Leader took all of eight minutes this morning. My god, you'd think we have roving bands of pit bulls on the streets tearing at the flesh of terrorized citizens. Jeezus, give the dog story a rest, please.
Maybe a new editorial page editor will help. Tony Messenger wrote his first Springfield editorial today, the obligatory glad-to-be-here-in-the-Ozarks-where-a-handshake-still-means-something-and-did-I-mention-my-love-of-gooseberry-pie routine. Your basic load of shit. Now that's out of the way, we can expect Messenger to actually say something next week. Welcome to the Bible Belt. You'll find out soon enough what it means, Tony, don't worry.
His new blog, Ozarks Messenger, just started up last week and should be an interesting addition to the local blog scene.
Rountree Alleged Molestation - Preponderance of Hearsay
Springfield R-12, seeking some kind of closure to this ugly mess, suspended the Rountree principal last week. Carolyn Harralson apparently failed to follow her mandated reporter responsibilities and is likely to face charges to that effect as soon as the prosecutor's office sorts through the DSS report.
What an odd case - the way this has played out reveals quite clearly how easily an individual's career and reputation can be smeared beyond salvaging even if there is virtually no proof of any misdeed - and as of this day, no charges filed. You gotta think there's a big lawsuit or hefty settlement brewing somewhere.
I'm also wondering if the caseworker for the Rountree episode also handled the Dominic James case (boy killed while in foster care). Even if it's not the same individual, I get the feeling the folks at DSS might be over-compensating just a bit on the this one.
One thing is certain. An experienced teacher and popular elementary principal have probably seen their careers in education come to an abrupt end due to allegations based on hearsay and notes passed on by fifth-graders. Yet the DSS claims there exists a "preponderance of evidence" that sexual abuse occurred at Rountree and that the principal neglected to respond to reports as required by law.
By the way, the principal reportedly contacted her supervisor for guidance on the matter and was told to file a report in the P.E. teacher's personnel file. So, is the administrator also going to be charged with mandated reporter violations? Or is the principal going to bear the entire responsibility for this apparent misstep?
And who leaked the descriptions of the alleged molestations to the News-Leader? None other than a parent trying to publicly justify the hotline call that set this sordid affair into motion. They asked to remain anonymous for fear of repurcussions. Repercussions? Like having your reputation destroyed and losing one's job? The N-L, of course, was all too eager to lay it all out with a front page headline - and yet, it bears repreating, neither the teacher nor the principal have been formally charged with anything. Very strange that the DSS can wield such power - and very irresponsible journalism on the part of the N-L, if you ask me.
The County Prosecutor's office has been quiet on the matter. Prosecutor Darrell Moore did little to hide his disapproval of the way R-12 and the Springfield Police handled the case from the start - with the quick arrest/release of the suspect and the closed community meeting. Moore is likely to charge the principal (and administrator?) fairly soon, but I seriously doubt the P. E. teacher will ever face formal molestation charges - unless somebody digs up some real evidence.