Wesley Goheen of WNEM reported today that the school district decided that six West Branch-Rose City teachers and a school board member who wrote letters asking for leniency for the convicted child molester are allowed to keep their jobs but will undertake "ethics training," despite resistance from rightfully outraged parents.
Eric Young of the Ogemaw County Herald wrote that school board President Jack Money said in part,
"We believe the letters written by the teachers may be protected under first amendment rights and that any disciplinary action will subject us to expensive, and potentially lengthy, lawsuits."
Young reported that the opinion did not reflect the will of the community, as
"many community members packed the auditorium at Ogemaw Heights High School for the meeting, most speaking out against the teachers, while a few spoke in their defense." [author emphasis]
To add insult to injury, the family of the molested child also endured an arson attack on their home in July, which resulted in their garage being burnt down, as reported by Eric Young of the Ogemaw County Herald. There were letters spray-painted on the family home, as well. While it is unknown who could commit such an act toward the family, it is not a stretch to believe it was somebody associated with the school in support of the child molester.
The perpetrators are still at large.
The victim's mother, Lori Janczewski, called into the Glenn Beck show on Tuesday. She explained that she worked for the school district where Erickson worked. Her son was warned by the pedophile that if he told on him, his mother would be fired from her job.
Janczewski described how she felt alienated during the sentencing hearing. She said,
"When we were standing in the courtroom, and all of these teachers that I have worked with...every one of them walked past us and didn't say a word."
Instead, they went to Neal Erickson's wife, who also taught at the school and is standing by her husband, despite the fact that she has a six-year-old child. She said that in the letters of support given to the judge, the teachers noted that the victim "...was a straight A student, he doesn't appear to be affected at all..."
How could they possibly know the mental state of the victim?
School board member Mike Eagan said that he was at the sentencing hearing to support the family of the pedophile, but does not support "child abuse."
Yesterday, Beck spoke with the victim's father, John, who explained that the only reason the abuse came to light was because
"...somebody sent the picture [of Erickson with the victim] to the board of education, the superintendent, the principal. And they sent it in an e-mail, and then they sent another e-mail, more pictures will follow."
Who sent the picture? How did someone else have pictures of the abuse?
Serena Marie Daniels and Francis X. Donnelly of the Detroit news quoted Superintendent Dan Cwayna as saying,
"The teachers are going to remain with the district," he said, "The board discussed this at length, weighed heavily the impact on the community and with their First Amendment rights."
The letters of the teachers were obtained by Eric Young of the Ogemaw County Herald, who quoted some of the key phrases:
- "This was an isolated incident."
- "Neal has plead (sic) guilty for his one criminal offense but he is not a predator..."
- "Neal made a mistake...He allowed a mutual friendship to develop into much more...."
Judge Michael Baumgartner said,
"I'm appalled and ashamed that the community could rally around, in this case, you...What you did was a jab in the eye with a sharp stick to every parent who trusts a teacher."
Clearly, the teachers should not be jailed for supporting a child molester, as it is within their First Amendment right to have the opinion that pedophiles should have light sentences, as outrageous as that opinion happens to be. However, the First Amendment does not guarantee the right for them to be teachers.
Would you want your children to be taught by these teachers? What would you do if you had children in the school district?
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Image source: wnem.com