This case involves a male middle school student who was sexually assaulted on school premises by a coach employed by the school. The assault took place over the course of several athletic seasons and happened after school hours. Although the coach worked directly for the school, the school denied responsibility for the coach’s actions. It was alleged that improper security and supervision as well as lack of appropriate policy and procedure to address assault complaints led to these instances. An expert in school security itself and/or in school district policy was sought to opine on this case.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Describe your experience in the physical security of schools and/or in school policy development to prevent against this type of act from occurring.
- 2. What steps could be taken to prevent sexual assault in similar instances to this case?
Expert Witness Response E-008468
I have practical and research experience and expertise in both school safety/security and policy development and implementation. I have worked as an administrator in public schools for 18+ years. Part of my responsibility has been the employment and supervision of non-certified staff as well as the development and implementation of the type of policies that appear to be missing and/or improperly applied in this case. In my current work as a school safety expert, I deal specifically with issues and liabilities associated with after-hour use, appropriate supervision, access control, investigations, vulnerability assessments, and the implementation of appropriate due process procedures. I am also a professor in educational administration, teaching classes in policy development, appropriate supervision of employees, and school safety-related issues.
Appropriate supervision, access control, and supervision after hours are crucial. In many ways, schools and school stakeholders are more vulnerable after the typical school day, as evidenced in this case. Many schools do not have adequate emergency operation procedures or even standard operating procedures that speak to safety issues for both staff and students. Appropriate planning for the supervision, oversight of staff members and students after hours could have prevented these incidents. Procedures for and a culture that encourages disclosures most likely would have elicited information and concerns about after-hours situations. A formalized system for complaints and due process must not only be present but consistently and fairly implemented. I have also reviewed a similar case where the school should have been aware of the potential for violence and sexual harassment of female students, yet choose not to implement their existing policies and did nothing to adequately address concerns that were raised after incidents occurred.
Expert Witness Response E-009388
In my 28 years of working in the field of education, I have served as a teacher, a school administrator, an athletic director, a transportation director, and a school safety director. I currently serve as the transportation supervisor for a public school district, where I have helped shape board policies for school transportation. I also serve as an adjunct analyst for a non-profit school safety organization. I have presented at the local, state and national levels, and have co-authored several books and magazine articles on school safety. I assisted in the research and development of curricula for the White House’s school safety initiative. I received basic certification in the active shooter doctrine and law enforcement training on school safety topics, interrogation of adults and children, bomb threat response, and drug recognition. I also hold basic certification as a gang specialist.
In general, circumstances like this can be prevented through sound physical access, policies, and procedures that prevent students from being on school premises after school hours, and vetting of employees prior to allowing them in contact with children. In the past, I have served as an expert witness in school safety litigation and performed off-site assessments of a private school.