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Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

Schools don’t always take seriously rumors about teachers behaving inappropriately with students, or investigate claims thoroughly. State investigators tasked with probing teacher misconduct are overloaded. Predatory teachers are able to exploit loopholes and move from school to school.

Sounds familiar, right?

But those aren’t just points that have been driven home by our investigation into sexual misconduct in local public schools, those are the new findings from a major investigation by the Arizona Republic and KJZZ.

On top of being a fantastic piece of journalism in its own right, the investigation is a stark reminder that these issues aren’t unique to San Diego or California. They’re pervasive. They’re the norm. They’re what we all live with.

In 2016, a yearlong USA Today investigation found “that education officials put children in harm’s way by covering up evidence of abuse, keeping allegations secret and making it easy for abusive teachers to find jobs elsewhere.”

In other words … precisely the same thing.

Reading through both the Arizona Republic investigation and the USA Today investigation is honestly pretty creepy in terms of just how closely the findings line up. The latter cites cases from across the country – New Mexico, New Jersey, Texas, you name it – that suggest virtually the same scenarios play out in every district, in every state, on a loop.

Three years ago, USA Today took a stab at an explanation: “Lawmakers have ignored a federal mandate to add safeguards at the state level. Unions have resisted reforms. And administrators have pursued quiet settlements rather than public discipline.”

Fast-forward to 2019 and unions in California helped kill – again – a law that would have required schools to ask prospective employees’ previous employers whether they’d been investigated for sexual misconduct. And we’ve found numerous instances of administrators agreeing to let people quietly retire or resign instead of pursuing firing – even in egregious cases.

USA Today made another point that’s still true in 2019: “This isn’t supposed to be happening.”

What VOSD Learned This Week

Our intern unearthed this jaw-dropping stat: The Grossmont Union High School District expels black students at a rate seven times higher than the county average. Meanwhile, Will Huntsberry compiled school climate surveys from across San Diego Unified to identify where students feel the least safe on campus.

And here’s why we’re a little wary of San Diego Unified’s response to our request for all of its sexual misconduct records for a 10-year period.

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County officials want to establish a countywide network of crisis units to divert patients experiencing a mental health crisis away from emergency rooms.

The plan to turn an indoor skydiving facility into a place where homeless residents can be connected with all kinds of supportive services has been criticized and delayed but is maybe, possibly, moving forward soon.

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Oceanside Police Department officials say they know they need to improve their relationship with community members, but so far those efforts sure are not going well.

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Ry Rivard has been keeping close tabs on the Mission Valley stadium deal-making, and answered a flurry of questions about where things are at.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“Nothing depresses a planet so much as the suggestion that its continued health is hanging by a very fragile thread. The last thing we would want the earth to do is think there was a problem. If we were to take any steps that made it look as though we were aware of a problem and were addressing it, well, that would be the end, for all of us.” – This makes as much sense as a reason not to address climate change as anything.

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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