They don't get it.
A Moraga principal who failed to report student complaints about a molesting teacher remains on the job months after the superintendent learns of the inaction.
In another case, faculty turn out in support of an abusive teacher after a former student bravely comes forward to report that the instructor had repeatedly raped her.
The cases originate from the 1990s. But, as fallout continued during the past year, district officials and teachers adopted the same circle-the-wagon mentality that enabled the abuses.
It's deplorable. We teach children that they must own up to mistakes and apologize to those they have wronged. However, there's no sign of that from the Moraga School District.
As Bay Area News Group reporters Matthias Gafni and Malaika Fraley detailed last week in this paper, the two abuse cases were appalling.
Case 1: In 1994, a high school student complained that teacher Dan Witters, after driving her home four years earlier, had kissed her on the mouth and placed his hand on her chest inside her shirt.
Principal Bill Walters never told authorities about the complaint letter as required by law. When he talked with Witters, he provided him a copy, including the girl's identity. Eventually, six girls came forward. Witters committed suicide in 1996.
Case 2: PE teacher and sports coach Julie Correa started raping one of her students when the girl was 14. The abuse continued for
In 2010, the victim, Kristen Lewis Cunnane, told police. Then, in a series of recorded phone conversations, she elicited a confession from her former teacher. Correa pleaded no contest and is serving an eight-year sentence.
How did the district respond?
Superintendent Bruce Burns says he learned about the first case when the reporters submitted a records request in December. Walters soon announced he would retire when the school year ends. He should have been fired immediately. The statute of limitations will protect him from possible criminal prosecution for failing to report the abuse.
As for the second case, when Correa appeared in court in August, more than 20 current and former Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School staff members showed up to support her bail request.
Think about it. Prosecutors had concluded that there was enough evidence to file 23 criminal counts, most involving forced sex. At that same hearing, Correa's attorney admitted that the sex with a 14-year-old occurred but, in an attempt to fend off the more serious charges, claimed that it was consensual. (Correa's eventual plea acknowledged that it was not.)
Yet staff members stood with the abuser. What message did that send to the victim, or any student who has been abused and might consider coming forward in the future? At least three Correa supporters -- Jerry Gruen, John Tsubota and Patti Forster -- are current teachers. They didn't respond to my request for comment.
Cunnane's husband, Scott, a Contra Costa prosecutor, urged Burns to alert parents so they could judge whether they wanted those three teachers instructing their children.
Burns refused. As he wrote to me, "The district does not track the conduct of its employees when they are on their own time, and does not have a practice or policy of alerting parents to the conduct of employees during such times."
Meanwhile, Burns sent out an email to parents this week telling them that the newspaper is to be commended for its inquiry and that "the district worked cooperatively with the Bay Area News Group to provide the requested information in a timely fashion while ensuring that we complied with all applicable laws."
It's nice spin, but simply not so. Burns flatly denied the newspaper's records request. Only after our attorney fired off a blistering legal analysis did the stonewalling end and the district cooperate.
As for Burns' bosses, four school board members remain mum, referring all calls to the fifth, trustee Dennis Kelleher, who simply echoes support of Burns' comments.
Trustees are individually elected and accountable. Hiding behind one is unacceptable. Any board member unwilling to discuss such serious issues should resign. The trustees are Kelleher, Dexter Louie, Charles MacNulty, Kym Leserman and Kathy Ranstrom.
Apparently, they've forgotten for whom they work. Voters should not.