Monday, April 29, 2013

UCLA chemistry professor ordered to stand trial in fatal lab fire

See all posts re UCLA.

See all posts on UCLA from Thank Heaven for Insurance Companies blog.

Sheri Sangji

It isn't just the Medical Center at UCLA that hires lawyers to help it avoid responsibility for unnecessary deaths. The Chemistry Department does it, too.

UCLA chemistry professor ordered to stand trial in fatal lab fire
By Kim Christensen
LA Times
April 26, 2013

UCLA chemistry professor Patrick Harran has been ordered Friday to stand trial on felony charges stemming from a laboratory fire that killed staff research assistant Sheharbano “Sheri” Sangji more than four years ago.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench denied a defense motion to dismiss the case, which is believed to be the first such prosecution involving a U.S. academic lab accident.

Harran is charged with willfully violating state occupational health and safety codes and faces up to 4 1/2 years in prison if convicted.

DOCUMENTS: Report finds fault in death of lab assistant

"We fully expect to vindicate Professor Harran,” his attorney, Thomas O’Brien, said after the hearing. “This was an accident, a tragic accident. We have always maintained that, as the University of California has, and we expect him to be vindicated.”

Sangji, 23, was not wearing a protective lab coat Dec. 29, 2008, when a plastic syringe she was using to transfer t-butyl lithium from one sealed container to another came apart, spewing a chemical compound that ignites when exposed to air. She suffered extensive burns and died 18 days later.

Harran, 43, is accused of failing to correct unsafe work conditions in a timely manner, to require clothing appropriate for the work being done and to provide proper chemical safety training.

From the outset, he and UCLA have cast Sangji’s death as an accident and said she was an experienced chemist who was trained in the experiment and chose not to wear a protective lab coat.

Harran’s lawyers sought to bolster those contentions during a preliminary hearing that spanned several days late last year and in a written motion to dismiss the felony charges or have them reduced to misdemeanors.

Among other things, they argued that Harran believed that Sangji, who had graduated just five months earlier from Pomona College in Claremont with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, was adequately trained by a previous employer and by a senior researcher in Harran’s lab.

Prosecutors countered that there is no evidence that Harran or anyone else trained Sangji in the handling of the chemicals that set her clothing ablaze, causing severe burns over nearly half her body.

“The bottom line with regard to the lack of training provided by defendant Harran is that, if victim Sangji had been properly trained ... victim Sangji would be alive today,” they wrote in court papers.

Deadly UCLA lab fire leaves haunting questions
Problems at UCLA went unfixed for two months before a young researcher was burned in a chemical accident.
By Kim Christensen
LA Times
March 1, 2009

UCLA's Molecular Sciences Building was mostly closed for the holidays on Dec. 29 as research assistant Sheri Sangji worked on an organic chemistry experiment.

Only three months into her job in the lab, the 23-year-old Pomona College graduate was using a plastic syringe to extract from a sealed container a small quantity of t-butyl lithium -- a chemical compound that ignites instantly when exposed to air.

As she withdrew the liquid, the syringe came apart in her hands, spewing flaming chemicals, according to a UCLA accident report. A flash fire set her clothing ablaze and spread second- and third-degree burns over 43% of her body.

Eighteen excruciating days later, Sangji died in a hospital burn unit.

"It is horrifying," said her sister Naveen, 26, a Harvard medical student. "Sheri wasn't out doing something stupid. She was working in a lab at one of the largest universities in the world. She gets these horrific injuries and loses her life to these injuries and we still don't know how it happened or why it wasn't prevented."

Sangji's death was more than a tragic workplace accident. It also raised serious questions about the university's attention to laboratory safety.

"It was totally preventable," said Neal Langerman, a San Diego consultant and former head of the American Chemical Society's Division of Chemical Health and Safety, whose members were given a detailed account of the incident by a University of California safety official.

"Poor training, poor technique, lack of supervision and improper method. This was just not the right way to transfer these things," Langerman said. "She died, didn't she? It speaks for itself."

Two months earlier, UCLA safety inspectors found more than a dozen deficiencies in the same lab, Molecular Sciences Room 4221, according to internal investigative and inspection reports reviewed by The Times. Among the findings: Employees were not wearing requisite protective lab coats, and flammable liquids and volatile chemicals were stored improperly.

Chemical Safety Officer Michael Wheatley sent the inspection report to the researcher who oversees the lab, professor Patrick Harran, as well as to the head of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department and a top UCLA safety official. The report directed that problems be fixed by Dec. 5.

But the required corrective action was not taken, records show, and on Dec. 29 all that stood between Sangji's torso and the fire that engulfed her was a highly flammable, synthetic sweater that fueled the flames.

Under scrutiny

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating, as are the Office of the State Fire Marshal, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. A spokeswoman for Cal/OSHA, the lead agency, said she could not comment on the investigation...

Patrick Harran

Facing felony charges in lab death of Sheri Sangji, UCLA settles, Harran stretches credulity
By Janet D. Stemwedel
Scientific American
July 31, 2012

There have been recent developments in the criminal case against UCLA and chemistry professor Patrick Harran in connection with the fatal laboratory accident that resulted in the death of Sheri Sangji (which we’ve discussed here and here). The positive development is that UCLA has reached a plea agreement with prosecutors. (CORRECTION: UCLA has reached a settlement agreement with the prosecutors, not a plea agreement. Sorry for the confusion.) However, Patrick Harran’s legal strategy has taken a turn that strikes me as ill-advised.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Half of the felony charges stemming from a 2008 lab accident that killed UCLA research assistant Sheri Sangji were dropped Friday when the University of California regents agreed to follow comprehensive safety measures and endow a $500,000 scholarship in her name.

“The regents acknowledge and accept responsibility for the conditions under which the laboratory operated on Dec. 29, 2008,” the agreement read in part, referring to the date that Sangji, 23, suffered fatal burns.

Charges remain against her supervisor, chemistry professor Patrick Harran. His arraignment was postponed to Sept. 5 to allow the judge to consider defense motions, including one challenging the credibility of the state’s chief investigator on the case. …

UCLA and Harran have called her death a tragic accident and said she was a seasoned chemist who chose not to wear a protective lab coat. …

In court papers this week, Harran’s lawyers said prosecutors had matched the fingerprints of Brian Baudendistel, a senior special investigator who handled the case for the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health, with the prints of a teenager who pleaded no contest to murder in Northern California in 1985.

The defense contends that the investigator, whose report formed the basis for the charges, is the same Brian A. Baudendistel who took part in a plot to rob a drug dealer of $3,000 worth of methamphetamine, then shot him. Another teenager admitted to pulling the trigger but said it was Baudendistel’s shotgun.

Baudendistel told The Times this week that it is a case of mistaken identity and that he is not the individual involved in the 1985 case.

Cal/OSHA defended the integrity of the investigation in a statement issued Friday by spokesman Dean Fryer.

“The defendants’ most recent attempt to deflect attention from the charges brought against them simply does not relate in any way to the circumstances of Ms. Sangji’s death or the actual evidence collected in Cal/OSHA’s comprehensive investigation,” it read.

Deborah Blum adds:

Should chemist-in-training approach hazardous chemicals with extreme caution? Yes. Should she expect her employer to provide her with the necessary information and equipment to engage in such caution? Most of us would argue yes. Should chemistry professors be held to the standard of employee safety as, say, chemical manufacturers or other industries? The most important “yes” to that question comes from Cal/OSHA senior investigator Brian Baudendistal.

Baudendistal concluded that the laboratory operation was careless enough for long enough to justify felony charges of willful negligence. The Sangji family, angered by those suggestions that Sheri’s experience should have taught her better, pushed for prosecution. Late last year the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office officially brought charges against Harran, UCLA, and the University of California system itself. …

[Harran's] lawyers have responded to the Baudendistal report in part by focusing on Baudendistal himself. They claim to have found evidence that in 1985 he and two friends conspired to set up the murder of a drug dealer. All three boys were convicted and although, since they were juveniles, the records were sealed, attorneys were able to identify the killers through press coverage at the time. Although Baudendistal has insisted that Harran’s defense team tracked down the wrong man, they say they have a fingerprint match to prove it. They say further that a man who covers up his past history is not credible – and therefore neither is is report on the UCLA laboratory.

I am not a lawyer, so I’m not terribly interested in speculating on the arcane legal considerations that might be driving this move by Harran’s legal team. (Chemjobber speculates that it might be a long shot they’re playing amid plea negotiations that are not going well.)

As someone with a professional interest in crime and punishment within scientific communities, and in ethics more broadly, I do, however, think it’s worth examining the logic of Patrick Harran’s legal strategy.

The strategy, as I understand it, is to cast aspersions on the Cal/OSHA report on the basis of the legal history of the senior investigator that prepared it — specifically, his alleged involvement as a teenager in 1985 in a murder plot.

Does a past bad act like this serve as prima facie reason to doubt the accuracy of the report of the investigation of conditions in Harran’s lab? It’s not clear how it could, especially if there were other investigators on the team, not alleged to be involved in such criminal behavior, who endorsed the claims in the report.v Unless, of course, the reason Harran’s legal team thinks we should doubt the accuracy of the report is that the senior investigator who prepared it is a habitual liar. To support the claim that he cannot be trusted, they point to a single alleged lie — denying involvement in the 1985 murder plot.

But this strikes me as a particularly dangerous strategy for Patrick Harran to pursue.

Essentially, the strategy rests on the claim that if a person has lied about some particular issue, we should assume that any claim that person makes, about whatever issue, might also be a lie. I’m not unsympathetic to this claim — trust is something that is earned, not simply assumed in the absence of clear evidence of dishonesty.

However, this same reasoning cannot help Patrick Harran’s credibility, given that he is on record describing Sheri Sangji, a 23-year-old with a bachelor’s degree, as an experienced chemist. Many have noted already that claiming Sheri Sangji was a experienced chemist is ridiculous on its face.

Thus, it’s not unreasonable to conclude that Patrick Harran lied when he described Sheri Sangji as an experienced chemist. And, if this is the case, following the reasoning advocated by his legal team, we must doubt the credibility of every other claim he has made — including claims about the safety training he did or did not provide to people in his lab, conditions in his lab in 2008 when the fatal accident happened, even whether he recommended that Sangji wear a lab coat.

If Patrick Harran was not lying when he said he believed Sheri Sangji was an experienced chemist, the other possibility is that he is incredibly stupid — certainly too stupid to be in charge of a lab where people work with potentially hazardous chemicals.

Some might posit that Harran’s claims about Sangji’s chemical experience were made on the advice of his legal team. That may well be, but I’m unclear on how lying on the advice of counsel is any less a lie. (If it is, this might well mitigate the “lie of omission” of an investigator advised by his lawyers that his juvenile record is sealed.) And if one lie is all it takes to decimate credibility, Harran is surely as vulnerable as Baudendistel.

Finally, a piece of free advice to PIs worrying that they may find themselves facing criminal charges should their students, postdocs, or technicians choose not to wear lab coats or other safety gear: It is perfectly reasonable to establish, and enforce, a lab policy that states that those choosing to opt out of the required safety equipment are also opting out of access to the laboratory.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Perspective on the 12 Indicators: 'Quality Teaching'

Perspective on the 12 Indicators: 'Quality Teaching'
Voice of San Diego
Apr 23, 2013

I’m working my way through San Diego Unified’s leaked draft of their 12 indicators for quality schools. Since this document apparently hadn’t been shared out with other stakeholders (the union, parent groups, the general community, etc.), I imagine it’s going to go through a lot of changes.

But that doesn’t stop us from basing our discussion on the assumptions this document makes, so I’ll go ahead and dive in. For now I'm only going to focus on the first indicator of school quality (Quality Teaching). I'll delve into the rest of the document in the future.

I was surprised that Objective 1.1 (Engaging and supporting all students in learning) was such a large proportion of the rating system (40 percent), given that student achievement represents a comparatively much smaller percentage (it’s there, though, as I’ll get to later).

One problem with giving so much importance to Objective 1.1 is that the evidence it describes needs to happen every day in the classroom, but the principal usually only observes teachers a couple of times a year (sometimes only once). For the ratings in this category to be mean anything, the principal would need to observe teachers constantly. One way to improve this measurement would be to expand the responsible party to include a student feedback component, or even a parent/community feedback component.

Now, I don’t like the idea of people randomly walking into my classroom unannounced, looking specifically to find faults in my instruction. I can imagine such a situation bordering on teacher harassment in a worst-case scenario. But it is possible to create a healthy school culture in which teachers are comfortable with people visiting their classes. The Preuss School, where I teach, has many visitors who want to learn about our instructional practices, and many of our teachers are accustomed to a steady stream of visitors. Nurturing a culture of constructive, open observations requires a lot of cooperation and trust between principals and teachers.

Another important prerequisite for frequent observations is principals who are well-versed in instructional practices and who are their schools’ education leaders. This may sound obvious, but I’m concerned that many in the current wave of self-designated education reformers from the business sector don’t value school leadership that is capable of engaging on the instructional level with teachers. They seem to favor data managers as school leaders.

Peter Orszag (President Obama’s former director of the Office of Management and Budget, and current vice chairman of corporate and investment banking at Citigroup) has written about this concern.

[The Gates Foundation researchers] found that teacher analysis could be done without having observers make random visits to the classroom; allowing a teacher to submit a self-selected set of videos from the classroom worked just as well, because even the best classes conducted by bad teachers were worse than those from better teachers. I’m not anti-data. Data is an important tool for guiding teacher instruction, and for assessing whether teachers are responding to their students’ strengths and weaknesses. I don’t think it should be used primarily as a punitive tool, especially given that students don’t have a stake in these assessments. As a reader for the AP European History exam last year, I had the pleasure of reading all kinds of nonsensical letters written by students who sat for the exam but didn’t attempt to answer the essay question I was grading — a few actually wrote that they were too tired to write the essay. Granted, it’s a long exam, but I wouldn’t want their teacher’s livelihood to depend on whether a student had enough energy to complete an exam that has little to no bearing on his/her future (some colleges won’t even give credit for high AP scores).

I would use test scores (in the case above, AP scores) to assess whether a teacher is updating his or her lesson plans to address student deficiencies, as measured by a variety of data. I think this is a critical component of teacher quality assessment, but it is currently under-weighted in this draft of Quality Teaching.

The way I’m reading the document, there is a section dedicated to student achievement: Indicator 1.5.2, which is under Objective 1.5: Assessing Student Learning (10 percent). Being able to adapt lesson plans to target individual and group weaknesses is the mark of a good teacher. Even a great teacher can have a group of students that doesn't respond to his or her lessons because of a glaring underlying weakness, be it academic or personal. That teacher is going to have to develop new approaches in order for students to succeed. That’s going to require collaboration with colleagues, research on content and teaching techniques and developing new lesson plans.

I had such an experience at one point in my career, a few years back. I had just finished a successful school year with a group of students that had responded well to the academic supports I had implemented that year, so I was pretty happy. It became immediately clear the next year, however, that my lesson plans weren’t working on my new students. They were dealing with motivational issues — something my lesson plans didn’t account for. I worked with my colleagues to address my class's needs throughout the year, and I feel better-equipped to address those sorts of issues in the future. But I may get a group of kids with issues I’ve never dealt with before, and I’ll need to work quickly in order to address their needs.

It’s like a batter who hits home runs every time the pitcher throws a fastball. That’s great, as long as he keeps getting fastballs. But pitchers are going to discover his weakness (let’s say it’s the slider), and then throw that. The mark of a good hitter is one who can make the necessary adjustments and learn to hit sliders for extra bases. It takes time for good teachers to develop new tools and techniques to adapt to their students' academic needs.

The catch, though, is that teachers actually need to put in the work to make those adjustments and get better results. Indicator 1.5.2 means collecting data on student achievement. It means that teachers have to learn how to adjust to shifting circumstances in their classrooms. It also means that principals (currently the responsible party for this indicator) have to work with teachers to help them make those adjustments and assess whether those changes are appropriate. It also means that we need to have accurate metrics by which to assess student learning. That’s a whole lot of effort for something that counts for only 10 percent.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

It's Not the Test That Made Them Cheat

It's ridiculous to say that teachers and administrators in Georgia and elsewhere committed crimes only because they had to give high-stakes tests to students.

The Georgia indictments are, in fact, just the tip of the iceberg of White Chalk Crime in schools.

The indicted educators tried to get rewards that they had no right to, and to take them away from those who deserved them. This happens all the time in schools. It's the reason the education system is failing. The wrong people are in charge of most districts, and too many of the wrong people are teaching kids.

If we had a system for correctly evaluating teachers, like this one, we wouldn't need to test kids so much, and we would save billion dollars a year. We could trust the teachers to do their job, and part of that job is to know exactly what each child knows and how each child learns best. Standardized testing could go back to its original purpose: to make an official determination of which kids are most advanced academically.

It's Not the Test That Made Them Cheat
By Michael J. Feuer
April 9, 2013

News came down, or up, earlier this month about the indictment of the former Atlanta schools chief Beverly Hall and 35 other current and former officials for their alleged roles in a massive cheating scandal that has rocked the city for the past three years.

The best coverage of this story is by Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Heather Vogell and her colleagues, whose fine journalism uncovered the muck.

There is nothing good to say about cheating on tests, which, in this extraordinary case, involves allegations of tampering with student answers, racketeering, theft, influencing witnesses, conspiracy, and making false statements. It’s wrong, period, and if Ms. Hall et al. are found guilty, they will hopefully use their time in jail to think about the damage they have caused to the kids, to the system, and to the public’s trust in schools and in the measures we use to gauge their quality.

Still, some of the reactions to the scandal have been surprising, if not scandalous in their own right. The most troubling response comes from people opposed to standardized testing generally and to current federal policy specifically. They somewhat gleefully use this sorry episode as the ultimate smoking gun, the perfect we-told-you-so case that clinches their claims about the evils of testing, and, by extension, the entire reform movement. It’s a big nail, they hope, in the coffin of test-based accountability.

"Shall we excuse individual or group criminality because certain social institutions create pressures for greed and misconduct?"

Among the more remarkable statements is one posted by William C. Ayers on Valerie Strauss’ Washington Post blog. For Bill Ayers, an education professor emeritus from the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Atlanta story proves that “teaching toward a simple standardized measure and relentlessly applying state-administered (but privately developed and quite profitable) tests to determine the ‘outcomes’ both incentivizes cheating and is a worthless proxy for learning.”

Mr. Ayers goes further. Not only does he attribute the alleged cheating to the testing policy, thereby essentially absolving Ms. Hall and her colleagues of their own ethical and professional lapses, but he uses the example to issue a sprawling condemnation of the U.S. Department of Education, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and even the president. As he puts it, “the road to the massive cheating scandal in Atlanta runs right through the White House.”

I have four problems with this logic (echoed in other commentaries, such as Jason Stanford’s bold assertion in the Huffington Post that “high-stakes testing makes cheating inevitable”; and FairTest’s pronouncement in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution op-ed last year that “[t]hese scandals are the predictable result of overreliance on test scores”).

First, shifting the blame for egregious mischief away from the perpetrators and onto the system strikes me as morally and politically bankrupt. Here’s an analogy to consider: Do we react to the worst instances of tax evasion by condemning the concept of taxation rather than by prosecuting the evaders? I assume that Mr. Ayers would not call for abolition of the graduated income tax as a way to finance public goods and redistribute wealth just because the system has its imperfections and because some people lie on their tax returns. Shall we excuse individual or group criminality because certain social institutions create pressures for greed and misconduct? Banking executives accused of fraud will be delighted.

Second, even if one could make an evidence-informed case that testing “inevitably” leads to illegal behavior—as if high-stakes testing overwhelms the human capacity for moral choice—there is the added problem of guilt by association. Pinning the responsibility for the Atlanta disaster on the White House is an extravagant example of misdirected blame. Maybe current federal policies lead to unwanted outcomes, such as narrowing of the curriculum and teaching to the test, but that’s a far cry from the outright fraud of the sort listed in the Atlanta indictment. Nothing in the No Child Left Behind law requires states or districts to use test scores to fire teachers and principals or to protect and reward those who achieve targets by tampering with answer sheets. In any case, there’s no evidence that federal policy causes cheating, or that “cheating is inevitable.”

Third, indicting testing, rather than cheating, undermines the possibility for reform in the design and uses of tests. The compelling logic in Campbell’s Law—“The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decisionmaking, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures ...” —is supported by abundant empirical evidence on the effects of overreliance on tests for accountability.

But what’s often ignored in the popular frenzy against testing, especially in the wake of cheating scandals, is the benefits side of the argument: Tests can help gauge individual learning, give teachers additional information about their students’ progress, provide objective indicators of student achievement, and expose inequalities in the allocation of educational resources.

We may never be able to completely “overturn” Campbell’s Law, but what’s needed is a sensible approach to assessing the ratio of benefits to costs and to the design of mechanisms meant to keep the ratio strongly positive.

Fourth, it turns out that in Atlanta there were schools, and kids, that actually did improve during Ms. Hall’s tenure, according to data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. As U.S. Commissioner of Education Statistics Sean P. “Jack” Buckley noted, “There were obviously rampant violations of testing integrity going on there, but there were also schools there that were legitimately improving.”

We shouldn’t allow score gains inflated from cheating to be misconstrued as evidence that any measured improvement in student learning—especially among poor and minority children—must always be the result of cheating or other mischief. This kind of smoking-gun logic saps the morale of educators, parents, and policymakers working in behalf of our most disadvantaged students and provides free ammunition to those who believe investments in public education are essentially futile. Just when we education researchers and social scientists are facing increasingly mean-spirited political challenges to our profession, Bill Ayers’ and others’ evidence-free diatribes further erode public confidence in the credibility of our work. One can only hope that the temptations of guilt by association won’t prevail, and that the research community as a whole won’t be blamed for the shoddy logic of some of its members.

Michael J. Feuer is a professor of education policy, the dean of the graduate school of education and human development at the George Washington University, and president-elect of the National Academy of Education.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Charges filed regarding a third child molestation victim of Chula Vista Elementary School District teacher Raymond Kinloch

John Raymond Kinloch remains employed by Chula Vista Elementary School District. CVESD has a long history of NOT investigating complaints about teachers, even when other teachers report that they fear the teacher will come to school and shoot everybody.

See all posts re John Raymond Kinloch.

New Charges for Wolf Canyon Teacher John Kinloch
On Thursday, prosecutors charged Kinloch with six additional lewd act charges involving a third alleged victim
By R. Stickney
NBC News
Apr 5, 2013

A Chula Vista elementary school teacher, accused of child molestation and possessing child pornography, was charged Thursday with new criminal charges involving a third possible victim officials said.

John Kinloch, 41, was arrested in November 2012 as part of a nationwide child pornography investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

He is accused of posing as a 13-year-old girl to befriend boys ages 12 to 16 through a website known as “MeetMe.”

Kinloch allegedly tried to convince the boys to share nude photos over the Internet according to investigators with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. He was also accused of selling and or sending obscene materials to others.

Since his arrest, the first grade teacher at Wolf Canyon Elementary School has been charged with several allegations of child molestation or lewd acts with children ranging from 8 to 15 years old.

Prosecutor Enrique Camarena said the defendant took advantage of an 8 or 9-year-old boy in 2004 when he was a teacher at Feaster Charter School. The alleged victim was a boy with whom the teacher had developed a close relationship with inside and outside the classroom Camarena said.

In February, 12 counts of lewd acts with a child under the age of 18 were added involving a second alleged victim occurring between August and December of 2012. This alleged victim was under the age of 13 and not a student according to Camarena.

Then on Thursday, prosecutors charged Kinloch with six additional lewd act charges involving a third victim. Camarena said the alleged victim was 14 or 15 between 1996 and 1998 when he alleges inappropriate contact. The incident allegedly occurred when Kinloch was 24 or 25 and was not working as a teacher...

Friday, April 05, 2013

Retired Teacher: School Officials Knew About Sexual Abuse, Did Nothing

School districts in general dislike people who makes waves. The goal is to present a calm surface to the community. Also, most teachers don't like anyone who challenges their political hierarchy. Dan Witters probably benefited from both of these tendencies.

Very similar things happened in my district, Chula Vista Elementary (CVESD). Recently I learned of yet another cover-up. Then-Asst. Supt. Dennis Doyle mentioned to parents in 2001 that a teacher abused a student, then the whole matter was dropped.

Here's a similar story that happened in a police department. A whistleblower was fired for revealing that witnesses had received inadequate protection, resulting in a murder.

Retired Teacher: School Officials Knew About Sexual Abuse, Did Nothing
Carol Buchanan tried to come forward in the 1990s, but was punished for it
By Cheryl Hurd
NBC News
Mar 29, 2013

Carol Buchanan, a former Moraga School District teacher, tried to alert schools officials of sexual abuse in the 1990s, but was ignored, punished. Cheryl Hurd reports.

Carol Buchanan is a retired teacher who taught in the Moraga School District.

Now she may become best known as a whistleblower in the sexual abuse case involving now University of California at Berkeley swim coach, Kristen Cunnane.

“Why didn’t somebody listen? What else could I have done?" Buchanan asked. “I do feel guilty in hindsight. If this happened today, there would be no problem. I would immediately go to (Child Protective Services).”

Buchannan said in the 1990s, students told her that a popular science teacher, Dan Witters, was sexually abusing them, and she complained to administrators.

She says the district wasn’t responding to her complaints and, after a 25-year career with the district, she wasn’t fired -- but they strongly suggested that she take a leave of absence.

She did.

Buchanan says she felt vindicated when Cunnane publicly came forward last year. She was a middle school student decades ago, and is now a 30-year-old swim coach at UC Berkeley. Her story has gone quite public, and she also claims that Witters Witters and a second female teacher abused her.

“My husband came running in when he heard me just screaming that I knew it I knew it why didn’t somebody do something," Buchanan said.

After finding out about Buchannan, Cunnane released this statement, saying in part: “I can’t believe how many people at the school knew about the sexual abuse and how many warnings the district ignored. To find out that there was someone at the school actually trying to help us and that she got punished for it is incredible.”

A recent article written about Buchannan’s allegation pointed out hat it failed to find documents to corroborate her story but superintendent Bruce Burns says the district is still looking.