We all agree we need to do a better job of protecting kids and while an explosive story plays out in Providence and a principal finds herself charged with a misdemeanor, we realize we have more questions than answers. In the aftermath of the arrest of a Providence elementary school principal for failure to contact DCYF about an allegation of inappropriate touching by a PE teacher, one has to wonder why she is falling on the sword. The more I listen and learn, the more I realize that even I was too quick out of the gate to support the arrest and that it’s clear that we have a much larger problem when it comes to clarity around protocols for reporting alleged abuse. At the moment, the state’s department of education can’t even articulate the process and it’s become abundantly clear that confusion by staff and leadership abounds and is not unique to Providence. (Important to note that Providence has since made several significant changes to avoid this situation repeating itself and is in the process of training and retraining everyone employed by the district.)
Dan Yorke of WPRO and Fox Providence has expressed concern over the mandatory reporting law, not in spirit but in practice. He invited me on to his show along with professor of social work Frederic Reamer from Rhode Island College’s Graduate School. I was lucky enough to sit in the studio and listen to the professor who has decades of experience with similar cases and offered recommendations for mandatory reporters and for school systems. I join the conversation after the professor to react more as a parent and an advocate—my conversation with Dan starts around minute 15.
It always a privilege to be part of the important conversation of doing right by kids. Thank you to Dan Yorke for covering these stories and for allowing me to be part of the conversation.