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FacebookBy Mary Beth Marklein, USA TODAY
Registered sex offenders are getting jobs in schools as teachers, administrators, volunteers and contractors, despite state laws that prohibit them from contact with children, a government watchdog report says.
And school officials in some states enable misconduct to continue by ignoring red flags during hiring or by covering up the firing of sexual offenders, according to the report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.
The report, obtained by USA TODAY, is based on a review of 15 cases in 11 states over the last decade involving people with histories of sexual misconduct working in public or private schools. Of those, 11 offenders had previously targeted children, and six abused more children in their new positions.
About 35 states have laws restricting offenders from schools, and most states require criminal history checks, though specifics vary widely, the report found. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., who requested the investigation, urged states to strengthen laws or pass a law if they don't have them.
"These children were put in this unsafe position because adults in charge of their well-being failed to do their job," says Miller, outgoing chair of the House education committee. "Parents have a right to believe that their children are safe" in schools.
An Education Department study estimates that millions of kids in kindergarten through 12th grade are victims of sexual misconduct by a school employee at some point. The GAO report also notes most sexual abuse of children goes unreported. In one study it cites, 232 child molesters admitted to molesting a total of 17,000 victims, often without ever being caught.
How offenders slipped through the cracks:
• A teacher/coach who was forced to resign from an Ohio school because of inappropriate contact with girls was hired by a neighboring district, where he was eventually convicted for sexual battery against a sixth-grade girl. The superintendent at his first school had called him an "outstanding teacher" in a recommendation letter.
• Several Louisiana schools hired a registered sex offender, whose Texas teaching certificate had been revoked, without doing a criminal history check. A warrant is out for his arrest on charges of engaging in sexual conversations with a student at one school.
• An Arizona public school skipped the required criminal history check even though the applicant disclosed he had committed a dangerous crime against a child. He was later convicted for having sexual contact with a girl.
• In three cases, schools failed to ask about troubling application responses. For example, a California charter school hired an administrator who had left blank a question about previous felony convictions; he had been convicted of a felony sex offense against a minor.
When questioned by investigators about why such lapses occur, officials typically said the time and costs associated with background checks made it hard to monitor applicants. Fear of lawsuits also was a factor.
Charol Shakeshaft, a Virginia Commonwealth University professor who researches the topic, said school personnel aren't trained in how to recognize and deal with such misconduct. "Parents, teachers, students and administrators don't really know how to handle it. Districts don't think it's a high probability. So people just don't learn what they're supposed to do and what the procedures are. There is hardly any education done on this."
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BINGHAMTON – Paul Gilvary wasn’t thrilled to be coaching in what he termed the “Meatball Matinee.” The Holy Cross coach was happy his Knights avoided the “Scrambled Egg Opener,” by rallying for a 50-45 victory over New Rochelle in the consolation bracket of the STOP-DWI Holiday Classic Wednesday afternoon in Binghamton, N.Y.
“This is the game you never want to play in – all these tournaments are constructed for the teams that win,” Gilvary said. “This way we get to have breakfast, have a little bit more of a normal schedule, get on the bus and go back home. It’s been a hectic couple of days, but we’re trying to make the best of it.”
Holy Cross' Anthony Libroia (l.) gave the Knights the lead late in their 50-45 victory over New Rochelle in the STOP-DWI Holiday Classic in Binghamton, N.Y.
Evan Conti made sure of that, scoring 13 points, grabbing 17 rebounds and dishing out four assists. Of his four dimes, the last one was the most important one, Conti setting up junior Anthony Libroia for a go-ahead 3-pointer from the left corner with 1:06 remaining. Like his teammates, Libroia struggled from the field in an opening-round loss to Imhotep Charter (Pa.) on Tuesday, but he felt better after shootaround Wednesday morning and scored 13 points against New Rochelle on 5-of-7 shooting.
“I wasn’t really thinking about it, I was just shooting,” he said.
Khamall Dunkley followed Libroia's 3-pointer with a length-of-the-court feed to Marquise Moore (14 points) for a layup and Conti hit a pair of free throws to ice the come-from-behind victory as Holy Cross closed on a 7-0 run.
The matchup with New Rochelle was starting to look like a replica of the loss to Imhotep as Holy Cross trailed 26-19 at one point, came out hot to start the second half, but lost the lead in a sluggish final quarter. Conti refused to let his team down, though he did uncharacteristically miss eight free throws. He scored 11 points after halftime, but most importantly set up Libroia’s clutch 3-pointer by drawing his defender on a drive into the lane.
"When your best guard is willing to give the ball up in a game-winning situation like that because someone has a better shot, it's a very good sign," Gilvary said. "He did that and Anthony made the shot."
Conti said: “He’ll make that shot eight out of 10 times. Everybody has faith in him. We know that’s his shot, that’s what he’s best at and we just want to exploit that.”
Holy Cross did catch a break when Torres, a senior with scholarship offers from Canisius, Rhode Island and Duquesne, went out early in the fourth quarter when he was poked in the eye, never to return. The 6-foot-4 senior needed 18 shots to get 19 points, but was creating problems for the Knights off the glass. Without him in there, New Rochelle managed only eight points in the fourth quarter and was held scoreless over the final 2:36.
"It had a big effect on the game," Gilvary said. "I hope he's OK, you certainly don't want to see anybody ever get hurt, but this happens in games."
Now, Holy Cross has a chance to head home with a winning record in Binghamton if it can knock off Mesa (Ariz.) in the fifth-place game Thursday at 11 a.m. It won’t include a trophy, as the Knights hoped, but it would be significant nevertheless.
“Even though [Tuesday] didn’t go well, we still want to leave out of here 8-3 and have a nice record going into league play,” said Conti, the uncommitted senior. “What’s the point of coming to a tournament like this and just giving up? New Rochelle is a team not too far from us and we want to build more respect. The only way you get respect is by winning games.”
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La Ncropole du Chellah (HDR)
Rabat en cette journe du mois de mars 2010. Voici le ciel bien dgag et ensoleill de quoi faire de belles photos de la Ncropole du Chellah. Ancienne cit Romaine l'entre de la Capitale marocaine.
- Traitement photo (normal et traitement noir et blanc) essais de quelques effets en HDR (High dynamic range).
High Dynamic Range
La Ncropole du Chellah
The Hooters restaurant chain likes to play up its "delightfully tacky, yet unrefined" slogan. But what more than 15 million TV viewers saw on Feb. 14 went beyond unrefined.
A Hooters franchise manager insisted that servers clasp their hands behind their backs and gobble up a serving of cooked beans face-first. Whoever cleaned her plate the quickest would get to leave early.
That scene was shown on the CBS reality show Undercover Boss. Later in the episode, Coby Brooks — the Hooters CEO who went undercover to evaluate workers — reprimands the manager for being inappropriate.
"There are lines that you don't cross," Brooks said.
Yet, many bosses don't follow that stance. In offices nationwide, managers belittle, isolate, intimidate and sabotage employees.
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One in three adults has experienced workplace bullying, according to surveys conducted earlier this year by research firm Zogby International for the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI). Nearly three-fourths of bullying is from the top down, according to a 2007 study.
Some tyrannical managers scream and send out scathing e-mails. But often, an oppressor uses a more subtle — and easily covered — collection of behaviors. These actions could include purposely leaving a worker out of communications so they can't do their job well, mocking someone during meetings and spreading malicious gossip about their target, says Catherine Mattice, a workplace consultant who specializes in this issue.
The acts may seem trivial, but as they build up over time, the ramifications can be monumental.
Bullied workers often feel anxious and depressed, can't sleep and are at increased risk for ailments such as hypertension. Some employees feel so overwhelmed, they just can't see a way out. "Sometimes, unfortunately, suicide is the result," Mattice says.
Tough to diagnose
On an academic level, workplace bullying has become a popular research topic, says Stanford Engineering School management professor and Good Boss, Bad Boss author Robert Sutton. But on a broader scale, there is still much to be learned about this topic.
"Workplace bullying is kind of this new concept; it's like sexual harassment before Anita Hill," Mattice says. "One of the biggest problems is that it is under the radar."
A big issue is that bullying is difficult to define. Is a demanding boss a bully or a perfectionist? Is a manager who says inappropriate things malicious or just tactless? "That's one of the difficult things to grapple with," says Joseph O'Keefe, a senior counsel at law firm Proskauer. "When does it rise above just being a mean boss and reach the level of bullying?"
As a general guideline, bullying occurs when a manager has an ongoing pattern of intimidating or demeaning behavior that can affect an employee's health.
"We've all had bosses who are rough around the edges, and sometimes you just have to deal with it," says Tom Davenport, a senior consultant at human resources consultancy Towers Watson. "But it's one thing to have an assertive boss, and it's another to have one that makes you feel sick — psychologically, physically and emotionally sick."
Since bullying is such an amorphous act, department managers and human resource executives often have to examine claims of it on an individual basis. Officials at the University of Virginia had to undertake this task earlier this year.
On July 30, Kevin Morrissey, managing editor at the University of Virginia literary magazine Virginia Quarterly Review, shot himself. Morrissey's sister, Maria Morrissey, says that after his death, she learned that her brother was treated harshly by VQR editor Ted Genoways.
Genoways' attorney, Lloyd Snook, says the editor was not a bully to Morrissey or anyone else in the office.
Following Morrissey's death, the university commissioned an audit of the magazine's finances and management practices. The Oct. 20 report says that while Genoways' ability to supervise his staff in accordance with university policies "is questionable," complaints against him didn't raise any red flags.
"There were reports through the years of the editor not being courteous or respectful with some contributors and colleagues, as well as problems with certain employees, but none ever seemed to rise to the level of a serious, ongoing concern," the report said.
In a formal response to the audit, Snook said that Genoways "has never been told of any specific complaint that any of his staff has had. There was never any personnel action taken against Ted."
Even with the release of the internal report, there are still many questions swirling — and not many publically known answers — about the situation at VQR.
Failing to take action
Yet, even when there are obvious concerns about a boss poisoning an office environment, often little is done. Reasons this is tough to diagnose and cure:
•Victims keep quiet. Many workers are embarrassed at being bullied, so they don't report the persecution to human resources. In addition, many targets are afraid that if they complain, there will be retribution.
•Intervention can take time. Morrissey and other staffers complained to UVA officials about workplace strife. Mediation was to take place, says UVA spokeswoman Carol Woods, but Kevin's sister, Maria, says the school didn't have a thorough or timely response. The UVA audit says its personnel satisfied "institutional policies and procedures." While there were notices of problems at VQR, the report says there were "no specific allegations of bullying or harassment prior to July 30th."
•Discipline can be subjective. Even though Undercover Boss is an entertainment-focused reality show, blogs were filled with intense criticism for Hooters CEO Brooks after he didn't fire the manager who made the waitresses eat without their hands.
That manager resigned earlier this year "to pursue other interests," says Hooters spokeswoman Alexis Aleshire. She said the company couldn't comment further on that specific situation, but e-mailed this statement: "Hooters has a longstanding and highly effective policy protecting employees from all harassment. Hooters of America and (the) Texas Wings (franchise) are confident the incident portrayed on Undercover Boss is in no way representative of conduct within the Hooters system."
•Legal recourse isn't clear-cut. Existing federal laws focus on the harassment/discrimination of those in a protected class, such as race, religion, national origin, age or disability. Since 2003, 18 states have proposed a "healthy workplace bill" that holds an employer accountable for an abusive environment, but none has become law.
•Witnesses are scared to come forward. About one in seven workers said they've seen workplace bullying but haven't been a target themselves, the WBI says. But many observers keep quiet. "A lot of time, bystanders see bullying, but they won't stand up," Mattice says. "They don't want to attract attention."
•Savvy bosses work the system. Manipulative managers often know how to play the game so they're not caught. "They kiss up and kick down," Sutton says.
Who gets picked on by whom
Workplace bullying can take many forms. While it's often a boss targeting employees, workers have picked on peers — and even their supervisors.
Slightly more than 60% of bullies are men, and 58% of targets are women, according to WBI. When a woman is the aggressor, she often picks on her own gender: Women target other women in 80% of cases. Men are more apt to target men.
Bullying can take place in any work environment, but Mattice says it tends to be more prevalent in hierarchical industries such as manufacturing, health care and education.
Crummy bosses are frequently more tolerated in organizations that focus on reaching sales goals, Davenport says.
"In a results-driven environment, managers may say 'Tom really is a jerk, but he certainly produces the numbers,' " he says.
Further complicating things: Most bullies don't realize — or at least, admit — that they're the bad guy. Fewer than 1% of people say they bully others at work, according to the WBI.
"We, as human beings, have self-awareness issues," Sutton says.
While maniacal managers may not realize how their behavior affects other employees, one place where they could see the difference is in the bottom line. Bullied employees will often take more sick days, steal supplies and use work hours to look for other jobs.
"They'll take longer breaks, and they'll be less likely to help others," Sutton says.
Beaten-down employees also don't perform as well on duties that take mental wherewithal. Research subjects have been less creative in simple puzzle-solving tasks after someone has been nasty to them, Sutton says.
But even as studies show that abusive managers can harm profits, bullying continues to rise at some firms.
One issue: Productivity-producing carrots, such as raises and bonuses, have been taken away as companies cut costs. Many mangers have turned to using sticks.
"With the economy the way it is, (supervisors) are more stressed out, and they are more likely to become more aggressive at work," Mattice says.
Those on the receiving end have their own issues due to the economic maelstrom.
"Anyone who is being bullied feels trapped, because where are they going to go?" she says. "They feel stuck there until the economy gets better."
The Nativity #8
Celebration Christmas in Singapore
Christmas Is Love
City Mission Church International Service
National Council of Churches
"The name of the meeting house is Te Hono ki Hawaiki, which means the link with the ancestral homelands. The carvings depict the ancestors who make this living link."
Carvings by Cliff Whiting
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Holiday Perennial Walk
View On Black
This is my final installment from my Blossom of Lights Photo walk through the Denver Botanic Gardens.
This picture is taken looking down the O'Fallon Perennial Walk which was lined with wonderful christmas lights! Something about Christmas light abstracts that I really like. I hope you enjoy it as well.
Thank you to all my followers and the support you've given me this year!
Everyone have a Merry Christmas!
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