Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

Sex Abuse Case Highlights Need for Teacher In-Service

Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

Sex Abuse Case Highlights Need for Teacher In-Service

Article excerpt

Ronald Walter Price, a former social studies teacher at Northeast High School in Pasadena, Maryland, recently made national headlines for all the wrong reasons. On October 14, the 48-year-old Price was sentenced to 26 years in prison for having had sex with three of his female students.

One of Price's ex-wives and his current wife were once his students. Before his trial, he did the talk show circuit and boasted of having had sexual relationships with as many as seven students--on and off campus--during his 24-year teaching career.

At the sentencing, Circuit Judge Eugene M. Lerner berated Price: "You brought embarrassment and shame to this county. You created a circus atmosphere, a public spectacle. You had sex all over a public institution--it's almost unbelievable ... You robbed these children of their normal high school years."

Neither were school administrators let off the hook. A Washington Post article reported that several teachers had talked with the principal at that time about their suspicions of Price's behavior, but the discussions allegedly were swept under the carpet. In July, the Maryland Department of Education concluded the Anne Arundel County school system had been negligent.

The Price case points up the need for teacher in-service on sexual harassment. As Susan Strauss reported in the March issue of the harassment in schools is a very real threat. Her fears were confirmed in "Hostile Hallways: The AAUW Survey on Sexual Harassment in America's Schools," which reports that among 8th through 11th grade public school students, four in five have experienced some form of sexual harassment in their school life.

So far, though, teacher workshops on sexual harassment have focused mostly on interactions between students and the need to reinforce the concept of sex equity. But 25 percent of the students surveyed for Hostile Hallways said they had been harassed by teachers or other school employees.

"Schools maybe think [the Price case] is an aberration, so they'll think they don't have to deal with it," says Strauss, a sex equity consultant, curriculum writer and community college director in Minneapolis. "In-services probably focus more on the appropriateness of touching students and avoiding sexist comments. …

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