Saturday, July 11, 2015

Father files suit, claims CVESD principal, sheriff's deputy ignored his daughter's abuse report

A bungled investigation into sexual abuse of a student in Chula Vista Elementary School sounds familiar to me: an alarming allegation made to a CVESD administrator followed by NO meaningful investigation.

According to a recent Jane Doe lawsuit against CVESD and the San Diego Sheriff's Department, a principal stopped a girl's complaint in its tracks. 

I believe that the principal sincerely believed that no genuine abuse was occurring, and also believed that the child's mother would protect her. That's why the principal orchestrated a meeting at which it was decided NOT to start an official investigation.  

The principal was sadly, tragically mistaken.

As a result, both the girl and her sister were sexually abused by their older half-brother during the subsequent eighteen months, and the mother was eventually found to be responsible for the wrongdoing.

So whose fault was the bungled investigation--the principal's or the deputy's? Or someone else's?

I submit that the school district was far more responsible for the outcome than some might imagine.

In my experience, school officials call the shots when law enforcement is called in--and this needs to change. 

The crux of the problem lies in the imbalance of power between the school district and the lone law officer. This is a problem that needs to be solved at the top levels of the school district and sheriff's department. Politics needs to be taken out of the situation, and should be replaced with professionalism.

Normal law enforcement procedures should be followed on school property. Victims should never be questioned in front of people who might be victimizing them. Police should not take direction from school personnel.

The political relationship between schools and CPS is different from the political relationship between schools and the sheriff's department. CPS does not take direction from school officials and that might be why CPS was not called in.

CPS might have done better than the sheriff. Perhaps the girl would have talked more freely in a private conversation with a civilian from CPS than in a rather intimidating and formal conference with a uniformed deputy, a principal, and the mother who had obviously failed her. If the mother had been available to take care of the problem, why would the girl have spoken about it to the principal?

I suspect that principals at CVESD have been trained as to how to fulfill the letter of the law.  

Certainly the principal was acting correctly from the point of view of the number one rule for school districts: maintain an appearance that there are no problems. One of the major tactics to achieve this goal is to silence voices of discontent, to keep problems hushed up, and to allow only favored individuals to have a voice. In CVESD and in many other districts, maintaining the political status quo is paramount. 

In my experience, school officials call the shots when law enforcement is called in--and this needs to change.  

CVESD seems to be a remarkably well-connected district.  Both the former mayor of Chula Vista and chief of police of Chula Vista had positions on the CVESD school board. This may explain why, when a wave of school embezzlements across San Diego County were being prosecuted and were receiving wide media attention, two embezzlements at Castle Park Elementary in Chula Vista received remarkably little attention from the media--and no charges were filed.

CVESD has a habit of maintaining the status quo by refusing to find out the truth about favored individuals. Sometimes the truth comes out, but I imagine there are a significant number of cases in which it doesn't.

Team 10: Father files suit, claims principal, sheriff's deputy ignored his daughter's abuse report
Suit: Abuse report should've been sent to CPS

...An attorney for the County of San Diego told Team 10 the deputy involved in this case is an experienced child abuse investigator who works closely with CPS. He said the deputy had no basis for any action, so there was nothing to report...

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