Principal guilty for not reporting teachers’ abuse

Craig Chandler, 35, is awaiting trial on charges of committing lewd and lascivious acts on five students at a San Jose elementary school where he taught second grade. His semen was found on a classroom chair.

Monday, a jury convicted the principal of failing to report suspected child abuse, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Principal Lyn Vijayendran listened to a second-grade girl’s story: The teacher had called her into an empty classroom, blindfolded her, told her to lie on the floor and open her legs, touched her feet with something that felt like a tongue, inserted something gooey in her mouth and then wiggled her head around until she tasted a salty liquid.

Instead of calling police, the principal called a district personnel administrator, who suggested questioning the teacher. Chandler said he was preparing for a “Helen Keller” lesson. Vijayendran believed him. The parent accepted the explanation.

Three months later, a parent told police Chandler had molested another second grader in the same fashion.

Juror Kathy Eriksen called the case “tragic,” but said the verdict was “absolutely necessary” to ensure educators, coaches and other mandated reporters don’t shirk their obligation.

. . . Juror Susan LaGaffa said the incident was obviously sexual and the teacher’s explanation ludicrous.

“I think she didn’t want this ugly thing to be true,” LaGaffa said. “But when you have responsibility for hundreds of children, you can’t afford to drop the ball.”

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Deborah Ryan immediately sentenced Vijayendran on the misdemeanor charge, giving her two years of probation and 100 hours of community service. The former principal, now working in the district office, can meet her service hours by training educators to comply with California’s mandated-reporter law.

The human resources director wasn’t charged because she’s not a mandatory reporter.

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Comments

  1. Eric Jablow says:

    What does it take to fire someone who would do that?

  2. The laws in most states are pretty clear, if you suspect abuse, and you are an educator, you are required to report it.

    • I’m sure the seven year-old girl who was the subject of Mr. Chandler’s abuse will be thrilled to hear that the principal was required by state law to report suspected abuse. As this story demonstrates, as do numberless other such stories, the law of public education however is “protect your superiors”.

      But you know that, Mike, which is why you’d prefer to ignore the crime just as did the district administrative personnel.

      Sad to write, I have to wonder what you’d do if you were in Lynn Vijayendran’s position.

      • And I’m ignoring the crime how?

        • By the pretense that the existence of a state law is the solution to the problem of a school administrator choosing to shield the school rather then protect the child and pursue justice.

          It obviously isn’t but you’d rather not delve into why a supposedly responsible adult would engage in a cover-up rather then trying to protect the child. Like former-principal Vijayendran, you’d rather the crime never came to light since it’s now your problem.

          So, what would you do if you were in Lynn Vijayendran’s position?

          • Well, a state law that’s enforced presumably gives a useful lesson, pour encourager les autres.

          • Mike would rather not delve into the reasons the principal chose to try to cover up the suspected crime rather then protect the child/children. It doesn’t fit the narrative of the public education system, in its form before the advent of charters and voucher, being an unmitigated public good.

            The principal obviously had some important reason to try to suppress knowledge of the crime even beyond considerations of her own legal culpability. Principals have been doing this same thing for quite a while which is why there is a law making it a criminal offense to cover up such crimes. Mike, like the administrator and board of Evergreen Elementary district, would rather this crime had never come to light and are willing to go to some efforts to make sure it doesn’t.

            That’s why there’s a law and Mike would much rather not delve into the reasons necessitating the law.

          • Sorry Allen but you’re reading far too much into my statement. The point I was making was the principal knew the law required her to report it and didn’t.

            You have some very interesting conclusions you jumped to. You should seek psychiatric hwlp.

          • What conclusion is that? That the sort of behavior exhibited by principal – choosing to try to protect the school district over the child – is common enough among public education administrators as to require a law punishing the practice? Is that the conclusion that results in your entirely predictable suggestion that I seek psychiatric “hwlp”? If that’s the reason I ought to seek psychiatric help then the California legislature ought to join me on the couch. They passed the law.

            The question is, why was it necessary to pass such a law. What is it about the public education system that causes seemingly normal adults to choose to cover up the sexual abuse of children?

            Why don’t you see if you can come up with an artful response to that question, Mike?

  3. I have to say that it appears you are still reading way too much into his comments. There are all sorts of laws to monitor what should be basic moral behavior that most people should understand as wrong without the law. Murder, Rape, etc…

    I usually see a large number of laws as a sign that a politician wanted to be seen doing something, more than the conclusions you are jumping to.

    • I’m not reading anything into anything. I’m pointing out the carefully ignored obvious.

      The principal of the school, who ostensibly has two primary job responsibilities – protect kids and educate them – chose to ignore the former in preference to protecting the school district.

      That’s a sufficiently widespread problem that the state legislature of California made it a criminal offense.

      What’s the alternative? That the California legislature, out of boredom, chose to criminalize something that never occurs?

      Everyone who reads this blog knows of situations in which public education employees and elective officials have chosen to hush up violence against kids and employees, including teachers, rather then go public.

      The real question is, why? Why would the principal choose to do what she did?

      Instead of blowing off the question why don’t you see if you can scrape together some self-respect and try to answer it?

      • “Instead of blowing off the question why don’t you see if you can scrape together some self-respect and try to answer it?”

        Perhaps if you actually read what people wrote, you would see that no one has actually argued with your comments, but rather the links you create and the attacks you spin against others for no reason. You started with mike and attacked him not for things he said, but for things you thought he should have said, and then created a tapestry of imagined reasons why he wouldn’t say them. Now, you are continuing the pattern with my comment.

        Congratulations, you have finally succeeded in erasing any belief I had left that you wanted to have productive discussions. Instead, I now have to reach the same conclusion as many others who read this blog: you are a pompous windbag who gets psychological fulfillment by attacking others in order to make up for your own inadequacies. Enjoy creating strawman and feeling like the conquering hero. I hope it in some way fills whatever void you have in your life.

        • The reason no one’s argued with my comments isn’t because I’m such a big meanie but because they’re self-evidently true. The courageous defenders of the public education system may be unhappy with me for transgressing the taboos that requires the shortcomings of the public education system must simply not be discussed but you know what? I really don’t give a damn.

          The public education system, by its nature, creates potent incentives for personnel to ignore or conceal criminal activities that occur in schools. That’s the fact of the situation and everyone who reads this blog has read of, or has a personal acquaintance with, more then a couple of cases just like the one under discussion where a principal or superintendent sought to impede criminal investigations or prevent them entirely. You know that as well as I do so don’t try to take refuge in what a big meanie I am.

          Turns out the California legislature’s also noticed that public education personnel can’t be trusted to put the welfare of children over their own career prospects so now there’s a law to provide some criminal penalties for doing just that. When you can tear yourself away from psychoanalyzing me why don’t you see if you can find something worthwhile to say about that?

          Oh, Amy in Texas? A grown man, not related to a seven year-old girl, took her into a darkened room, blindfolded her and that’s about as far as I’m willing to go with the description of events and you want to try float the idea that the principal’s naive?

          Naiveté doesn’t come close to excusing her subsequent actions and I’m not sure if “stupid” would come any closer to an explanation. She had reasons for concealing the crime that have nothing to do with whether or not she was certain a crime occurred. Just the first few words of the description would have most adults who don’t work for public education running for a phone if not a baseball bat and you’re interested in explaining the principals quandary. The California legislature agrees with me and has seen fit to provide a disincentive for doing what the public education system quite clearly demands.

          That’s why Principal Vijayendran had a quandary. Not because she was ever so concerned with false accusations but because she was concerned with *any* accusation. She just wanted the whole problem to go away because that’s what her superiors want from her.

          Hell, I think she’s pretty lucky. All she’ll have is a misdemeanor charge against her which, compared to what the first little girl, and the *second* little girl will carry away, seems a little less then equitable.

          • Roger Sweeny says:

            I don’t know how naive the principal was. People in organizations often cover up bad things. You don’t want to get your co-workers in trouble. You don’t want to go against the old advice, “To get along, go along.” You think exposure will hurt the organization–which you feel basically does good work. You’re afraid things will rebound on you. Lots of reasons.

            Not good reasons. But reasons lots of people find. Here in Massachusetts, we’ve had years of scandals about pedophile priests and Boy Scout leaders. The respective organizations tried to keep information about abuse from getting out to the public.

            As Amy implies, pedophiles are often very good at not being caught, at developing what can function as alibis. Malcolm Gladwell has a fascination article on that, focusing on Jerry Sandusky:

            http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2012/09/24/120924crat_atlarge_gladwell

          • Indeed and in this way the public education system and the Catholic church resemble each other both being hierarchical organizations.

            Since power flows from the top down in a hierarchical organization the organizational imperative becomes the personal imperative and that’s to protect the organization. Nothing unique to public education in that situation but the public education system’s not immune to the process either. To the principal the pederast represented a danger to the district and it was that danger that the principal was trying to deal with. The kids? I’d like to think she spared a thought for them but her actions make it clear where her concerns lay.

            The implication of the California law under which the principal was found guilty is that the problem is sufficiently wide spread to require some means of counteracting the demands of the organization. It’s the need for such law that I was pointing to and in pointing out that necessity drew the attention of apologists for the public education system.

        • J. D. Salinger says:

          I agree with your assessment of his comments.

      • Amy in Texas says:

        Allen, your comments are ridiculous.
        This principal is obviously a very naive person who probably trusted and/or liked the teacher in question and somehow bought his lame excuse. Incredibly, the child’s parent did the same. The fear of a false accusation must have been stronger than their feeling that a sex act took place. My guess is that the teacher had a very good Sandusky-like smokescreen that made people blind to what he was up to.