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Broken Trust shows urgency of ESAs

The Clark County School District’s response — or lack thereof — to instances of teachers’ sexual misconduct involving students is stunning.

This week’s expose by the Review-Journal’s Meghin Delaney and Amelia Pak-Harvey should terrify every parent — as it does me. The three-part series examines why sexual misconduct has been such an issue for the district.

CCSD knows of teachers who have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct with students, but unless there are successful criminal or civil charges, “all written reports … (are) removed from the teacher’s personnel file.” That’s a clause from CCSD’s contract with the Clark County Education Association. The administration says its hands are tied by the collective bargaining agreement, and union bosses defend the clause as needed to protect teachers falsely accused of abuse.

That stalemate led to Basic High School principal David Bechtel saying of one male teacher investigated for improper texts sent to a female student, “He absolutely cannot come back to my school.” So, the teacher moved to Dailey Elementary School before being arrested for a sexual encounter with a 16-year-old in 2012.

The union is content with preventing district officials from being proactive or even reactive in cases that don’t garner media attention. I’m not.

Contrast this with the response of United Airlines to the viral video of aviation police dragging a passenger off an over-booked flight. Within a month, United had settled with the passenger, increased its payout policy for passengers giving up their seats and revised its employee training.

Why did United act so much faster than CCSD, which has had this problem for years?

Because United’s customers can go somewhere else. Just days after the video went viral, United’s value had dropped by $770 million. Its quick corrective actions seem to have worked, and its stock has more than recovered.

Contrast that with the options available to CCSD parents. Most parents can’t afford private school or get a seat in a charter school. Their children are stuck in a public school system unable to root out known predators.

This is just another reason that Education Savings Accounts are so urgent. ESAs allow parents to take a portion of the money Nevada spends on a child’s public school education and use it on private school tuition, home-based education or online learning.

Expanding eligibility for ESAs to every student in public school would greatly change the teachers union’s incentives. If union bosses knew that defending those credibly accused of sexual abuse could lead to thousands of parents using ESAs to leave CCSD, union bosses would lead the way in removing those teachers from the classroom.

ESAs bring the accountability needed to fix the trust that’s badly broken.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Nevada section each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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