Last week social media was a buzz when the story broke about 40-year-old West Fargo Sheyenne High School teacher, Elizabeth Doster, resigning amid allegations that she partied with students and provided them alcohol.
A September 15th Bismarck Tribune article reported on a July 10th incident:
Ms. Doster will not be facing any criminal charges at the moment. Cass County Assistant State’s Attorney Kara Schmitz Olson says that decision resulted in the fact that there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
In addition to the allegation of bootlegging, documents from an internal investigation performed by the school district revealed an allegation of sexual misconduct – or having oral sex – with a student the previous school year.
The weakest of the allegations thus far appears to be in regards to the sexual misconduct with a student. That allegation originated from a “Text-a-Tip” to the school resource officer and nothing has been found to back up the claim.
And though no charges are being brought against Doster at this time in regards to the July 10th incident, it’s fairly obvious from the police report that something was going on. And that something wasn’t innocent summer tutoring.
Unfortunately, these types of situations – teachers acting inappropriately with students – are nothing new. A simple Google search will reveal that they are actually fairly common.
Take the issue of teachers and sexual relationships with students, for example. According to one Washington Times article, in 2014 alone there were 781 “reported cases of teachers and other school employees accused or convicted of sexual relationships with students”.
When the Washington Times article was published, it showed that these troublesome numbers were trending upward. And the apparent culprit? Social media. A stunning 36% of those involved in such incidences utilized social media to start or continue those relationships.
As I consider these types of situations involving teachers, students, alcohol, and sexual misconduct; I can sum up what is needed in two words– higher standards. And these must be applied to parents, teachers, and students.
Parents must be engaged with their children. Knowing where they are, what they’re doing, and who they’re with will go a long ways in preventing these types of circumstances. I’ve seen far too many parents over the years take a “hands off” approach with their children– especially teenagers. I believe this is to be a mistake.
Teachers must be held to a high standard of conduct. Their dress, language, how they conduct themselves in and out of the classroom, interaction with students, etc. all contribute to how professional they will be and how professional they will be perceived by others.
When parents and teachers live up to high standards of conduct, students then find themselves surrounded by examples of how they should behave. They too are then expected to meet a high standard of conduct and accountability becomes a reality in their lives.
Is it any wonder that given our current state of affairs in education that more and more parents are pulling their children out of the public school environment for alternative methods of educating them? For example, the United States has now doubled the number of homeschool students compared to 1999.
So, why the increase? In a recent survey, 25% of parents said that it was the public school environment – including safety – that caused them to pull their children out in favor of alternative forms of educating. And can we blame them?
Now, please don’t get me wrong. It’s not as if every public school teacher is degenerate. Nor do I believe the majority of them are. But when we have bootleggers and sex-offenders among them – together with all the other challenges in public education – it’s only natural that some parents will ditch it for something a bit more desirable.