Antioch parent Larry Evans' description of the guilt he feels about abuse his autistic son endured reminds us again of state officials' failure in 2013 to require meaningful training for school employees.
As reporter Matthias Gafni described, "Evans keeps repeating the same scene in his mind of taking his son Malik, who is nonverbal, to Mno Grant Elementary School one morning last year and his son, unable to speak, shutting the car door repeatedly and refusing to get out and go to class.
"I feel like I failed miserably at recognizing some signs my son was giving," a teary-eyed Evans said.
He's not the one who failed. All parents should be able to trust their teachers to look out for their charges, not abuse them. And they should never have to fear that teachers and administrators will cover up such abuse.
On Dec. 18, the Antioch school district board announced that it will pay $8 million to the families of eight kindergarten special-education students, including Malik, who had been taught by former Mno Grant teacher Theresa Allen-Caulboy. She faces criminal charges.
The problem was not just the abuse -- it was the hiding of it. David Wax, the district's director of special education, described in an email to administrators how he was able to "de-escalate" another parent who said she intended to notify police about Allen-Caulboy.
In just over a year, this newspaper group has detailed cases of sexual and physical abuse -- and ensuing cover-ups -- in Concord, Moraga, San Jose, Brentwood, Antioch and allegedly Redwood City.
The law is clear: Employees who work with children -- in schools, that's everyone from janitors to the superintendent -- must immediately report suspected abuse to law enforcement.
It's not optional. It's not a matter of telling a superior. Outside authorities must be notified. Not next week. Not after an internal investigation. Immediately.
Ignorance of the law is stunning, but it's not surprising. Each district separately figures out whether and how to train personnel about the reporting law. They often consult lawyers, some of whom are equally uninformed.
State officials must mandate annual training, and provide a standardized online tutorial and required test to ensure compliance. We're tired of stalling from state Superintendent of Public Education Tom Torlakson and legislators, including Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Burbank. Gatto heads the Assembly Appropriations Committee, which blocked even a minimal bill to address the problem.
This training problem can be easily solved at minimal cost. We understand Gatto's office is considering new legislation. Do it now. Don't let another year pass.