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Another Scandal-Scarred Czar Is Born

The most despicable appointment yet? Jennings, the "safe schools czar," once committed criminally negligent behavior regarding the protection of a student.

by
Scott Ott

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October 2, 2009 - 12:04 am
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Meet Kevin Jennings, the man now in charge of safety for America’s government-run schools. He begins his reign as “safe schools czar” like many Obama appointees — with an awkward declaration about previous transgressions related to his new employment.

From ABC’s Political Punch Blog, we read:

Jennings today issued a statement saying, “Twenty-one years later I can see how I should have handled the situation differently. I should have asked for more information and consulted legal or medical authorities. Teachers back then had little training and guidance about this kind of thing. All teachers should have a basic level of preparedness. I would like to see the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools play a bigger role in helping to prepare teachers.”

The “situation,” or “this kind of thing” as he calls it, refers to Jennings’ days as a private school teacher in the spring of 1988 when a 15-year-old student confessed to him that he had engaged in homosexual acts with an adult stranger he had met at a city bus station. Jennings “listened, sympathized, and offered advice” to the youth, but that was it.

Let’s put this in context. In the late 1980s AIDS diagnoses were skyrocketing, with roughly 40,000 cases reported in the U.S. in 1988 alone and 25,000 deaths. In his 1994 book One Teacher in Ten, Jennings acknowledged telling this teen that his own “best friend” had just died of AIDS. Jennings also said the teen had indicated he had not worn a condom.

There’s no doubt that Jennings understood the risk of infection. But he let the kid walk.

Now Kevin Jennings, our “safe schools czar,” wants us to believe that a lack of training “back then” prevented him from acting to protect the health and safety of the youth who had been been the victim of statutory rape.

In the spring of 1988, when Jennings chatted with the boy he calls “Brewster,” USA Today reported that new studies showed almost everyone infected with the AIDS virus would get the usually-fatal disease (March 14, 1988, Section 4D). The papers carried frequent headlines about the illness. But apparently Jennings wants us to believe that a lack of teacher training curriculum caused his criminal negligence regarding the safety of this child.

Yes, the word is “criminal.” Massachusetts law made teachers mandatory reporters of any sex act between an adult and a child under 18. Jennings didn’t report it.

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