church farms school latest to deal with touchy-feely adults

2015/01/img_2940.jpg.

Sign me disgusted on this one. The news has broken with yet another teacher/guidance counselor/coach/school employee having inappropriate relationships with students. What is wrong with people? And what is wrong with the education system and both public and private schools that they can’t screen out potential problems?

The news broke last night about Sarah O’Neill of Coatesville, previously employed by the august Church Farms School right on Route 30 in Exton. This elite boys boarding school says on their website “inspiring boys, fulfilling dreams”. Somehow a touchy feely past female employee charged with having a full blown affair with an underage male student is not exactly what they had in mind, don’t you think?

2015/01/img_2938.jpg

I do not get what motivates these purported “adults” basically every single time one of these stories hits the media. This story, like the others, totally grosses me out and skeeves me. A couple of years ago my alma mater Shipley went through this. Within the past few years there was also that incident at Bayard Rustin high school in West Chester with the swim coach.

Of course the Shipley story/issue/perversion made the news again last summer when authorities discovered that the guy who was the former coach had been living with the student he was never supposed to have contact with again. Mind you when I read that article I wondered what the hell was wrong with the girl’s parents in addition to this creepy guy?

And then there was the Valley Forge Military Academy and College guidance counselor who also got caught in a “compromising position” around 2012. The list seems somewhat endless over the past few years and I don’t get it. With all the background checks that are supposed to be done for people who want to be in the education field and so on I don’t understand how these people fall through the cracks? These things just happen magically? Or have they been happening all along and it’s just because the world we live in that the issues are finally coming to light?

I guess I just don’t get people that are entrusted with the lives and minds of our children doing these things. I don’t understand the motivation. I am sure there is a litany of excuses but surely these adults know the difference between right and wrong? How do they betray the trust of the students and the parents?

So this developing case shows again why people should support non-profits dedicated to fighting sexual abuse and exploitation of children. One is local to Chester County. It’s a wonderful organization called Justice4PAkids. You can click on hyperlink to view their website and find them on Facebook.

Anyway, here’s the early media coverage on this so made for a ridiculous Lifetime TV movie linked below.

Add Sarah O’Neill 35 of Coatesville to the touchy-feely wall of shame in Pennsylvania.

NBC10 Philadelphia : Chester County Teacher Accused of Having Sex, Relationship With Student

A Chester County teacher is accused of having sex with one of her students during a relationship that lasted nearly a year.

“The thought that I could love so deeply and so wrongly pervaded before you and I even officially began,” Sarah O’Neill allegedly wrote the teen. “It was quite a long winter break before my lips even attempted yours and I wondered if you were as affected as I.”

O’Neill, 35, of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, was a teacher at Church Farm School, an all-boys private school in Exton, Pennsylvania. The teen, who is now 17, told police he began a relationship with O’Neill in January, 2014, when he was 16 and she was his teacher. The two expressed their love for one another and began a relationship that lasted 10 months, according to investigators.

Daily Local : Church Farm School teacher arrested for alleged sexual relationship with student

…..Sarah O’Neill, of Coatesville, was arrested on four counts of corruption of minors on Tuesday for allegedly having an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old student. Police said the relationship began in January 2014 and lasted for about 10 months.

Police said O’Neill was charged for four separate incidents that allegedly occurred in her car and at area hotels

what’s up with coach touchy feely in the west chester school district?

In January, West Chester Area School District ballyhooed the maintaining of their bond rating.  But as I have said before, if you are an issuer of debt and rated by issuer paid ratings agencies, in a sense you get what you pay for.  Wonder what today’s news will do to their rating/reputation?

Yes, I make no bones about being skeptical and somewhat jaded about public school systems in PA, and yes I am a pure product of private school.  But truthfully, that occured because at the time my parents worried about what we would learn and not learn in Lower Merion School District, and I am forever grateful they sacrificed so we could go to private school. Not that private schools don’t have coach issues – Shipley had one a year ago when a squash coach found himself in the hot seat for having an affair with a student.  I lost track of the case in September, so I am not sure what happened to the guy James Civello (the former Shipley coach)  in the end.  If I am reading the court docket correctly, he has not yet had his trial.

I am indeed critical of public school systems, but heck, all you have to do is follow a non-profit action organization called LMVUE and other grass-roots groups that fight for public school education and you will get an education of your own.

When I was first introduced to the West Chester Area School District I was appalled by what they called education in the elementary and middle schools.   Let’s start with how much bullying is tolerated in the elementary and middle schools, how they don’t really want gifted student programs, and many other issues.  What happened to the language programs in at least the elementary schools? What’s up with in essence, science in a box?  I saw first hand via a friend, what qualified as “homework” in basics like social studies.

I said it before and I will repeat myself, all I see out of West Chester Area School District is a dumbing down of students and paper pushing.   I remember spring a year ago  something coming out about rankings – I don’t remember West Chester being so hot when it came to stacking up side by side against other school districts.  According to the Philadelphia Business Journal the top ten included Tredyffrin-Easttown, Radnor, Lower Merion, Unionville-Chadds Ford, Central Bucks and others.  But not West Chester. West Chester according to the statistics was 41 in this ranking of PSSA scores.

But now we flash forward to the giant high schools, and today’s news brings the news of a touchy feely coach.  A swim coach at Bayard Rustin High School named Kenneth Fuller, who judging from NBC10’s 11 a.m. news report lives in West Goshen has been accused of doing some non-swimming stroking with an underage girl he was coaching.

O.k. …ICK.  Just ick.  I do not and never will get older guys who have this Lolita fixation.  And it is not the first teacher I have heard of doing this, as these things are unfortunately in the news far too often.  And then of course there are the incidents which never make it to the news or get reported beyond family.

For example, way back when I was in high school I used to do an occasional appearance as a catering extra hand with a friend from high school – it paid better than baby-sitting.  This one summer she and I were extra servers at a very Main Line wedding.   I was either 16 or 17 and one of the guests, a man at that time I believe close to 30 if not a little older came onto me.  It was very creepy.

What was even more creepy is when he called me up at my parents’ house a few days after the wedding like he was some teenage boy asking for a date.  Unfortunately for him, he was one of those obnoxious touchy feely men who was a known quantity on the teen girl circuit, and he had actually approached another girl I knew at the time.  I made it simple for him, I told him if he ever called me or bothered me again I would tell all my friends, my father, and all my parents’ friends.  That worked like a charm.  I never outed the guy, and see no point now since in essence my friends and I rendered him a failure to launch at the time and scared the crap out of him, but when I would occasionally see him as an adult at things with his wife and family I was hard pressed not to vomit.

So, this whole West Chester incident, while disgusting if true, is not surprising.  You just never know what lurks behind a seemingly nice package.  Human nature is a funny thing.

However, I did find what the West Chester Area School District Superintendent Jim Scanlon said this morning on the 11 a.m. NBC10 news cast somewhat disturbing.  When he was speaking about the incident he said that this Kenneth Fuller was not a teacher, just a coach.  News flash: IT DOESN’T MATTER.  What matters is that the school district hired him and if the allegations are proven true, they had this guy around students.  And besides, isn’t coaching in a sense, teaching?  Instead of teaching academics, coaches instruct/teach with regard to various sports?

Schools always protest when one of these relationships is outed that they did background checks, criminal checks, etc.  So I have to ask, is there something else they should be doing, or perhaps paying for more thorough background and criminal checks? (there are different levels of checks – I know because I used to perform them as part of my previous job.)

This distinction made by West Chester Area School District Superintendent Jim Scanlon that Fuller “was not employed as a classroom teacher.  Like all employees, Mr. Fuller had state and federal criminal history clearances and child abuse clearances before he was hired” just doesn’t sit right.  To me it is like there is a subliminal message or the school district preparing to do a Pontius Pilate.

Parents need to start asking this school district some tough questions.  And if they don’t get the answers they need, they should work to get a new school board and administration.  Yes, these incidents happen.  But the true test is in how the school district handles this issue, not just how a purported criminal act is investigated and disposed of through the judicial system.  The school district needs to be accountable for their staff….no matter who they are.

As for this coach, shame on him.  The trust of students and young people in general is a very big deal.  Not only do you have a part in shaping the adults they will become, you are the adult in the equation.  If this is true, this coach deserves what he gets.

Here’s the media on this:

VIDEO

NBC10: Swimming Coach Has Sex With H.S. Student: Cops

A swimming coach in the West Chester Area School District is accused of posing as a student’s father to get her excused from class so he could have sex with her.

By  Jackie Gailey
|  Thursday, May 17, 2012  |  Updated 8:22 AM EDT

A swimming coach at Bayard Rustin High School in Chester County was arrested Wednesday, he’s accused of having sex with an underaged student.

Kenneth Fuller, 47, is charged with institutional sexual assault, corruption of a minor and related charges.

He was arraigned late Wednesday night and only NBC10 was there as he was escorted to Chester County Prison after failing to make his $250,000 bail.

Fuller met the female victim away from the school on three occasions between April 27, 2012 and May 2, 2012 and had sex with her, according to Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan…… pretended to be the victim’s father and had the victim excused from school for a fake doctor’s appointment so that they could have sex, according to Hogan…..NBC10 has obtained a letter sent home to parents by West Chester Area School District Superintendent Jim Scanlon. It reads in part:

“Mr. Fuller had been employed in the West Chester Area School District since the 2009-10 season as the coach for the boys and girls swimming team.  He was not employed as a classroom teacher.

Here is the press release from West Chester Area School District:

Rustin HS Boys and Girls Swimming Coach Arrested

May 16, 2012

Dear Parents,

I am very sorry to inform you that Rustin High School Boys and Girls Swimming Coach Ken Fuller was arrested this afternoon for allegations of committing Institutional Sexual Assault, Corruption of a Minor and related charges according to the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

Mr. Fuller had been employed in the West Chester Area School District since the 2009-10 season as the coach for the boys and girls swimming team. He was not employed as a classroom teacher. Like all employees, Mr. Fuller passed state and federal criminal history checks and child abuse history clearances Mr. Fuller had no reports of any improper conduct during his employment with the district.

We take student safety very seriously and are cooperating with the District Attorney and police. Mr. Fuller has been notified that he is not permitted on school property, nor permitted access to any of our students.

We are in no means trying to be inflammatory by releasing this information to parents.   We are trying to be as sensitive as possible to the students involved and impacted by this, however we would rather you hear this news from the school district first, before reading about it in the newspaper or social media. We respectfully ask for your sensitivity to this school community and privacy to the students impacted

The school district is very concerned about these charges and very much regrets any concerns they have caused students, parents, staff and our school community.

Parents who want more information about the investigation should contact Ms. Elizabeth Pitts in the Chester County District Attorney’s office at 610-344-6801. Parents may also contact my office at 484- 266-1018. We will provide counseling to students and staff.

Thank you for your support during this troubling experience.

Dr. Jim Scanlon

Superintendent of Schools

Posted: Thu, May. 17, 2012, 3:00 AM

By Sam Wood

INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

A West Chester high school swim coach was arrested Wednesday on charges that he posed as a swimmer’s father, plied her with beer, and had sex with her.

Kenneth William Fuller, 47, head coach of the Bayard Rustin High School swim team, was charged with felony sex assault and corruption of a minor.

“This was a despicable violation of trust,” said Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan.

A member of the team, a teenage girl, told police that Fuller took her to a Kennett Square hotel April 27 and gave her “multiple” beers, court documents state. They had sex twice at the hotel, the documents allege.

On May 2, officials at Rustin received a phone call from a man who identified himself as the girl’s father, telling them the girl had a doctor’s appointment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, according to court papers. After leaving school early, the girl met Fuller at the same Kennett Square hotel for sex, the papers state.

 

By MICHAEL N. PRICE mprice@dailylocal.com

Posted: 05/16/12 07:08 pm Updated: 05/16/12 10:36 pm

A 47-year-old West Chester Rustin High School swim coach was arrested for allegedly having sex with an underage student-athlete, the Chester County District Attorney’s office announced Wednesday.