- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Mifflin High School horror in Columbus, Ohio, happens in public schools everywhere. The names and ages of the young victims vary, but one thing is constant across the country: Spineless education bureaucrats more concerned about covering their hides than protecting innocent children.

On March 9, press reports say a developmentally disabled girl told Mifflin school officials four boys dragged her into the school auditorium, punched her in the head and face, pushed her to her knees, and forced her to have oral sex with two of them. A crowd of students watched, and one student videotaped the incident. The 16-year-old girl’s lip was bloodied in the alleged gang attack. Dazed and crying, her face swollen, she reported the assault immediately to her special education teacher, Lisa Upshaw-Haider.

One monstrosity was piled upon another. When the girl’s father, summoned to the school by the teacher, insisted on calling police, an assistant principal twice urged him not to call 911, according to Ms. Upshaw-Haider. Assistant Principal Rick Watson implored the girl’s father to call the nonemergency police line instead of 911, a violation of Ohio state law, because “a news channel might tape his daughter and cause her further mental trauma,” he told school investigators.

Witnesses say the school principal Regina Crenshaw shuttered herself in a meeting about bell schedules and curriculum for a half-hour while underlings scrambled to control the damage.

Cover your ears, cower in a classroom and pray that the media stay out of it. It’s all about the children, right?

Witness statements revealed no administrator bothered to call a nurse to assist the girl. Only after the girl’s father called police himself did law enforcement come to the scene. By the time cops arrived, all administrators had left for the day.

The principal is now in the process of being fired. The animals accused of assaulting the victim were suspended and may face criminal charges. But two of three assistant principals, including alleged cover-up man Rick Watson, are protesting their measly suspensions over the incident as “unwarranted.” Worried as ever about his own hide, Mr. Watson said through a lawyer he hoped to be “spared the public ordeal of a full hearing.”

What about the girl’s ordeal? As is so often the case, this was probably not the first time the disabled student was attacked. Police are investigating claims she was previously assaulted on a school bus and that boys had tried to disrobe her at school.

Public-school Pollyannas will dismiss the Mifflin High School horror story as an isolated case. Open your eyes. Smell the stench. It’s in your neighborhood.

The New York Post recently reported that assaulted or sexually abused students and staff members collected $6.9 million in negligence claims against the New York City school system in fiscal 2004, an 18 percent increase over the previous fiscal year. The largest settlement, $1 million, was awarded to a Bronx high school student whose classmates stabbed him in the head with a screwdriver. The school had refused his mother’s request for a safety transfer before the assault.

In Montgomery County, Md., a local government report revealed nearly 12,000 children ages 12-17 are bullied, abused or robbed by peers and others. More than 1,000 of them are sexual assault victims. The school system, not required to inform police of these crimes, has been bombarded with parents’ complaints that school officials ignored the victims or downplayed sexual assaults, including attacks of young girls while passengers on local school buses.

These are heart-stopping nightmares for every parent. You send your children to school to learn, not to be assaulted by classmates and abused by the negligent overseers of Public School Classrooms Gone Wild.

Private schools would be closed by such occurrences. Instead, the government dance of the lemons continues, as abominable administrators skip away with “sensitivity training,” “reassignment” and eternal protection from accountability.

Michelle Malkin is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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