A group of parents in Fairfax County, Va., are urging the school district to do more to keep their children safe after the firing of a counselor who was convicted of committing a sex crime.
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) superintendent Michelle Reid recently told parents that the school board fired a counselor at Glasgow Middle School in Lincolnia, Virginia, after learning he was convicted of soliciting prostitution from a minor. Records show that the school district had employed him for months before his termination. The school board took action against Thornton as soon as they learned of the situation, according to Reid, who assumed the role of superintendent last month. She called the situation “deeply disturbing” and pledged an “independent investigation” by outside counsel.
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Now, the Fairfax County Parents Association (FCPA) is demanding some changes. In a new statement directed to the school district, the group thanked Reid for firing the counselor, but said that should be only the beginning in the schools’ quest to keep kids safe.
“After its failure to fire a convicted sex offender, FCPS must be truthful & transparent, must change its process & must work with parents,” the FCPA wrote on Twitter, with a picture of their larger statement.
“Like all members of the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) community, we were shocked to learn that a Glasgow middle school counselor was allowed to remain employed with FCPS for over a year after being charged with a child sex crime,” the statement read. “The circumstances that finally led to this week’s decision by FCPS to fire this counselor underscore the deep concerns parents have about FCPS’s bureaucratic inability to stay focused on executing not only its key mission of excellence in academics but also its key role as partners with parents in the safety of children while in the custody of the system.”
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The parents asked for three items. One, they demand that every FCPS employee expected to come in contact with minors to undergo annual criminal background checks.
“There have been several instances in recent years where FCPS staff have been arrested and charged with inappropriate behavior towards minor children, and similar charges related, for example, to child pornography,” FCPA told Fox News Digital. “While we by no means suspect that thousands of our FCPS staff are up to no good, we are very concerned about the few who seek employment in school systems specifically to have greater access to children for, frankly, evil purposes. We think that it is reasonable to ask that people who have one-on-one access to children have an annual criminal background check.”
Two, the parents want the schools to implement a “clear and publicized process” for which parents and students can notify the school system in an official way of incidents or concerns that place children at risk of sexual or other harm.
“While we urge families to immediately notify the police of any incidents where their children were harmed or at risk of harm, the school system cannot put its head in the sand and say, ‘we lost the email,’ when it comes to child safety,” the parents explain in the statement.
“We believe it is reasonable to ask FCPS HQ to provide a clear way for families, students, and staff to ensure that their concerns are heard at the highest level without fear of retribution when they feel a child has been endangered,” the group explained further for Fox News Digital. “We believe that such a system would help to ensure that FCPS HQ cannot have situations where potentially serious incidents ‘slip through the cracks,’ because there will be accountability at HQ for knowing and following up on incidents that are reported.”
And thirdly, the parents ask FCPS to publicly provide the full final report on the incident, how the failures occurred, and how internal processes have been changed to ensure it never happens again.
“When it comes to this incident and child safety in the schools, we strongly believe that they must be completely transparent and provide parents with specific information on what the school system will do to ensure such a situation never happens again,” the group told Fox Digital.
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They conclude by asking for “truthful transparency, a serious and significant response, and a change in tone that shows parents the school system is on their side, and the side of the students.
FCPS did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
Students across the county have recently staged walkouts to protest what they described as FCPS’s lack of response to sexual assault reports. Shatter the Silence FCPS, described as a local non-partisan non-profit, said it was due to the district’s “culture of silence and cover-up on sexual violence.” In the past year, two principals and six staff members have been arrested for failing to report child sex abuse, the group has noted.Become a Sponsor this one is for you