Our Personal Injury Blog Is Committed to Informing the Phoenix Community If You Have Any Further Questions, Don't Hesitate, Contact Us Today

Arizona Struggles to Investigate & Convict Child Sex Abusers in Schools

Across Arizona, there are about 55,000 teachers in payroll positions. 40 of them will be disciplined for sexual misconduct allegations involving students each year, on average. Does this mean that all offenders are being investigated and penalized correctly? Not necessarily, warns a recent Arizona Republic and KJZZ Radio study.

According to the research conducted by these groups, the Arizona Department of Education is falling short when it comes to doing all it can to protect students from sexual offenders in their own schools. For example, teachers in Arizona do not have to take any sort of official training to deter sexual misconduct. This is a fundamental professional practice in many other states. Why is it not being done in Arizona?

It was also found that 332 disciplinary cases and allegations of sexual abuse were backlogged in the Department of Education’s records, pending further review and action. The Department claims to have cleared that backlog in as little as four years, which brings up further worries that the cases were rushed and incomplete.

Teachers working in charter schools present another set of troubling facts.  In Arizona, two-of-five charter-school teachers or 40%, are not certified.  That means that teachers suspected of sexual misconduct can move from school-to-school without detection giving them access to new classrooms full of unsuspecting children.

How Widespread is Sexual Misconduct in Arizona Schools?

The Arizona Republic and KJZZ Radio researchers were able to collect 633 reports on teacher discipline in Arizona from 2012 to 2018. 40% of those cases involved some form of sexual misconduct. 80% of those disciplined for sexual misconduct were men.

What was done in these cases to protect students from further sexual misconduct?

  • Nearly 50% of teachers investigated for sexual misconduct surrendered their teaching certificates before the investigating board took any action.
  • Another 35% of cases involved the State Board revoking teaching certificates following an investigation, especially when criminal charges were brought against the accused teacher.
  • Close to 10% of teachers investigated  were able to reapply for their suspended teaching certificate after five years.
  • The last 5% or so were allowed to reapply only after two or three years with a high chance of reinstatement.

(You can read a full, multipage article about the ongoing problem of sexual abuse in Arizona schools and the difficulty holding teachers accountable by clicking here and visiting the AZCentral website.)

What Can Be Done Now to Stop Sexual Abuse in Schools?

As a parent of a student in an Arizona school, it is important to educate yourself about child sexual abuse, the signs of child sexual abuse, and the grooming behavior that sexual predators often employ against children and their families.  Parents can start by simply teaching children the anatomically appropriate parts of the human body and teaching children that no one is allowed to touch their genitals or other parts of their body without their permission. 

If you believe your child has been abused by a teacher, coach, school counselor, priest, Boy Scout leader or any other school official, call police.

You can call (602) 483-6869 to connect with Montoya, Lucero & Pastor, P.A. in Phoenix to investigate and pursue a civil lawsuit against the institution that had a legal obligation to protect your child.  Civil justice may also uncover evidence that schools, school boards, police, and prosecutors may have overlooked or that may have been covered up. Our sex abuse attorneys are also former prosecutors who can help you navigate the criminal justice system.  The sex abuse attorneys at Montoya, Lucero & Pastor, PA  are honored to stand with survivors of child sexual abuse to help them take back their voice. We have a long history of holding powerful organizations accountable , including the Diocese of Phoenix, the Boy Scouts of America, Massage Envy, and school districts throughout Arizona.  Learn more about our legal services by contacting us now.