The crimes of which these employees were convicted ranged from child porn to grooming to sexual assault, the year-long analysis found, and the employees included K-12 teachers as well as upper levels of schools’ administrations, according to Fox News.
Five principals, three assistant principals, 290 teachers, 26 substitute teachers and 25 teachers’ aides were convicted last year. Almost every single state in the country saw some sort of conviction.
Just 16% of the crimes did not involve students, and the vast majority of the offenders (82%) were men.
In one case, Eugene Pratt, 57, who worked as a former principal, elementary school teacher and coach, was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct in August 2022 after sexually assaulting at least 15 boys and young men. Law enforcement officials said Pratt sought out positions of authority in the education system so he would have easy access to victims.
“This isn’t surprising or new, though it is hard to accept,” Erika Sanzi, director of outreach at Parents Defending Education, told Fox News. “Since the dawn of time, sexual predators have found a way to embed themselves in child rich environments and schools are no exception.
“Smart phones and encrypted apps have increased access to young children and adolescents and while it is a tiny fraction of educators who engage in this predatory behavior, we must do a much better job protecting children while also respecting due process,” Sanzi said.
Corey DeAngelis, a senior fellow at the American Federation for Children, said parents deserve to know just how widespread sexual threats are in their public schools.
“In fact, a 2004 report from the U.S. Department of Education estimated that around one in ten public school students will experience educator sexual misconduct by the time they graduate from high school. The Department of Education should update the report as soon as possible to shine a light on this abuse,” he said.