Monday, April 26, 2010

These Were the Ones that were Caught.

Okay they caught these ones, what about those that are not caught? This is just one of the many reasons why New Hampshire needs a homeschooling freedom law. Parents should not have to endanger their children by being forced to send their children to public schools where people like this exist.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for my readers.

New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
Sunday, Apr. 25, 2010

The state has revoked credentials from 44 educators since 2000 for reasons including sexually assaulting children, possessing child pornography and stealing student funds, according to state records.

On average, 138 cases of alleged misconduct in schools are investigated each year, said Judith Fillion, director of the division of program support in the state Department of Education.

In an average year, about five state credentials -- required for teaching in New Hampshire -- are pulled, some immediately after teachers voluntarily surrender them rather than face revocation hearings.

Teacher behavior has been in the news recently, with at least four high-profile cases of alleged teacher misdeeds in Manchester, Merrimack and Londonderry involving drugs, alcohol or nude pictures e-mailed to a student.

Fillion said about 70 percent of the misconduct allegations are resolved at the local level, with the remainder probed by a state education investigator.

"There's quite a range, from something that can be handled easily that might be something like a misunderstanding and some, even though the local investigation does identify issues, we determine it doesn't rise to the level where we would revoke or suspend the credential," Fillion said.

Superintendents are required to report all allegations of misconduct to state education officials, Fillion said.

"There's been times we've (first) seen it in the newspaper, but most times superintendents are very good at reporting misconduct," she said.

The revocation list of educators includes teachers, guidance counselors and principals.

"Most revocations are due to inappropriate sexual conduct or improper use of technology," Fillion said in an e-mail.
Increasing vigilance

Since 1981, 100 educators, mostly teachers, have had their right to teach in New Hampshire taken away.

The list cites 36 revocations for alleged inappropriate and/or illegal sexual acts. Another 15 state a "lack of good moral character," phrasing allowed until education department rules pushed for more specific disclosures.

Fillion said the names of those whose credentials are revoked are entered into a national database to inform school districts in other states.

"When we get an application from another state, that's the first thing we look at," she said.

Last school year, New Hampshire had nearly 22,000 workers in public and private schools holding education credentials, Fillion said.

Mark Joyce, executive director of the New Hampshire School Administrators Association, said very few credentials are revoked each year compared to the large number of educators.

"One is too many, but it's still a pretty low incidence and (education) as a profession is becoming ever more vigilant with that," Joyce said.

Rhonda Wesolowski, president of the National Education Association-New Hampshire, said the safety and well-being of students "is of paramount importance" in schools.

"We believe that the misconduct of a relative few should not detract from the efforts of so many others of the nearly 20,000 teachers that do the right things every day," she said in an e-mail.
Range of cases

In the most recent case on the list, last updated Dec. 29, Christopher J. Cieto surrendered his teaching credential on Dec. 11.

Cieto, an English teacher at Hollis/Brookline High School, pleaded guilty to stalking for sending sexually explicit e-mails and instant messages to the mother of one of his students last year, according to Hollis police Sgt. Richard Mello.

"Whatever his potential as a teacher, he made some mistakes, some grave mistakes," Mello said last week.

Cieto was placed on probation for a year and will avoid jail if he exhibits good behavior for two years, Mello said.

One of the list's oldest cases involved Timothy A. Froncek, who taught at what was then Newfound Memorial High School in Bristol.

According to the revocation list, his credential was revoked on Jan. 12, 1982, for pleading guilty to second-degree murder. But Froncek didn't kill his wife until October 1983, and he didn't plead guilty to the murder until June 1984, according to a New Hampshire Union Leader story at the time.

According to another newspaper story, Froncek on Jan. 12, 1981, had his credential suspended for a year at the request of the Newfound Area School District. The district said Froncek gave only 24-hours notice for resigning his job, a breach of his contract.

Fillion said the credential wouldn't have been yanked until the second-degree murder plea was official. She planned to have
Froncek's entry amended.

Froncek received a 21-year prison sentence. Now 62, he has been out of prison since October 2001 and remains on lifetime parole, supervised out of the Nashua office, said state Corrections spokesman Jeff Lyons. Froncek couldn't be reached for comment.

Recent incidents
When a teacher voluntarily surrenders his credential, that teacher and the state education department enter a "negotiation" over the wording of why the credential was surrendered, Fillion said. A surrender automatically leads to a revocation, she said.

No teacher has asked for his education credential to be reinstated, but a few have inquired, Fillion said.

Recent cases of troubled teachers include two at Manchester's Hillside Middle School. The school board last Thursday fired Lynn Manning three weeks after police charged her with smuggling methadone pills into the state prison. Jennifer Boldwin resigned this month after wine was found in her classroom.

Also this month, Merrimack teacher Lisa Dinucci was charged with making her daughter twice start her car by blowing into the tube of an installed ignition-locking device, which was one of the requirements in Dinucci's sentence for a 2008 conviction for aggravated driving while intoxicated.

Last month, Londonderry High teacher Melinda Dennehy resigned after she was charged with indecent exposure and lewdness for allegedly sending nude photos of herself to a 15-year-old student at the school.

Fillion said she couldn't identify anyone under state investigation but said drugs and alcohol are instances that the state would look at to see if revocation was appropriate.

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