Special Rules for Relationships in School


Observers of the intersection between education and politics in Rhode Island might be interested in the national attention our local teachers unions have been getting for their opposition to a bill that would make it illegal for teachers to have physically intimate relationships with students under 18 years of age.  Here’s William Donohue in what appears to be a syndicated (or at least broadly published) op-ed:

On April 1, Pat Crowley of the state chapter of the National Education Association (NEA) noted his opposition to the bill at a hearing, though he did not elaborate. On April 8, Robert Walsh, the executive director of the NEA Rhode Island defended the organization’s opposition while saying, “It is patently ridiculous for anyone to imply that our organization, or any individual teacher, would condone any inappropriate relationship between a teacher and his or her students.”

What is patently ridiculous is to claim how horrible it is for a student between the ages of 14 and 18 to be a victim of sexual assault by a public school employee while also objecting to legislation that would punish such conduct. The power disparity between an agent of the state and a teenager should be obvious, even to lobbyists.

The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) in Rhode Island was represented by James Parisi. On April 8 he made the same argument he made a week earlier, noting the discriminatory nature of the legislation.

“You should include all the adults who have employment or other types of authority over 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds,” Parisi said.

The argument of unfair application sounds very much like a distraction.  Given that state government has direct authority over public schools and assumes special authority over education, generally, there’s nothing wrong with legislators’ setting special rules of conduct for educators.  Note, for example, a statute written in 1896 and last modified in 1956 that requires that “every teacher shall aim to implant and cultivate in the minds of all children committed to his or her care the principles of morality and virtue.”  (One suspects if that were more commonly enforced, special rules about sexual relationships wouldn’t be needed.)

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Donohue notes one other consideration that is particularly relevant to him as the long-time head of the Catholic League:

What makes this argument so stunning is that the public schools have been protected in every state in the nation from the same legislation on this issue that applies to the Catholic Church. Whenever there is a bill that allows for the prosecution of old cases of abuse—extending back to World War II—the public schools are typically given an exemption.

In the little bit of time I had available, today, I wasn’t able to confirm the 90-day window that Donohue claims, but I did come across RIGL 9-1-25, which makes the statute of limitations just three years to initiate “actions or claims in tort against the state or any political subdivision thereof.”  The statute of limitations for “actions based on sexual abuse or exploitation of a child” does not contain the magic phrase “notwithstanding any other law,” so it isn’t clear whether it supersedes the special rules for government entities.

One datapoint suggesting that the sexual abuse statute does not supersede the special treatment of government entities is legislation from Senator Donna Nesselbush (D, Providence).  She included a change to 9-1-25 in this year’s version of her bill, which would extend the statute of limitations for the sexual abuse of children.  The similar legislation she submitted last year did not do so.  This change suggests that the new language is needed, and without it, public schools and other government agencies have a blanket statute of limitations of three years.

Be that as it may, the unionists have the legal principle exactly backwards.  On the occasions when we restrict liberty in the name of moral opprobrium, we should do so as narrowly as possible.  People should be able to construct the norms of their homes and places of work freely.  When it comes to public workplaces, it falls to the public to set the norms.

That does not mean, however, that due process in and out of government employment should differ — certainly not in a way that loosens standards for the public sector.

  • ShannonEntropy

    Wherein I Debate Myself:


    One of the union guys was on 630AM talk radio yesterday and said something like “The GA wouldn’t single out say Italians with a law like this, so why us teachers ??”

    Dood, that is a pretty retarded argument against profession-specific legislation. There are dozens if not hundreds of profession-specific laws in the RIGLs. Are you being deceitful, ignorant, or more likely, both ??

    “You should include all the adults who have employment or other types of authority over 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds,” Parisi said. He wanted to know why store managers, for example, weren’t mentioned. The ACLU affiliate in Rhode Island said the same thing, saying that to single out teachers is “arbitrary and capricious.”

    Donohue points out what a joke the ACLU has become… these are the same guys who tried to get Craig Price released !! And I would point out to both the ACLU and Parisi that kids are compelled by law to attend school, so they need special protections from the adults who rule over them


    Donohue says: Currently, it is not a crime for someone to have sex with a minor unless the person is under 14. Wrong, Bill. The Age of Consent in Li’l Rhody is 16 yrs, altho it really oughtta be 15 yrs. Every girl has become a full-grown woman by then. See=Quinceañera


    Man, I long for “the good ol’ days”. As recently as the early ’90s faculty having sexual relations with above-the-age-of-consent students was just a perk of the job, not the freakin’ outrage-inducing cataclysm it is today, like just about everything else. Just ask a parent to get their kids a measles shot and watch! everybody lose their minds !!

    As for why that antiquated doctrine of sovereign immunity public schools tend to have against laws like this one: there are a LOT of teachers in the GA and of course most of them have, have had, or want to have sex with their students, so why not write a “Everyone Except Us” into the law ??


    Why do I debate myself ?? Back with Reagan and now Trump, people say to me: “Entropy, you say you worship the water these guys walk on… but you disagree with them a lot of the time.” My standard answer: “Heck, I donut agree with *myself* 100% of the time”

    • Rhett Hardwick

      Many years ago, while in my early 20’s, I taught school for a few months. The 17 year old girls were quite aggressive. They still wore skirts, their favorite trick was to sit down front, pull up their skirt, then drop a pencil so you would look at the noise. I tend to think that teachers who fall for it are “weak” rather than perverted.

      • ShannonEntropy

        I tend to think that teachers who fall for it are “weak” rather than perverted.

        It is neither ‘perverted’ nor ‘weak’ for a man to be sexually attracted to a physically mature woman who just happens to be under-age

        If it is your primary obsession to commit statutory rape with those women, it’s called EPHEBOPHILIA altho exactly why this is labelled a “chronophilic disorder” remains a mystery to me

        If you are a HS teacher and the only females in your daily life are hot adolescent chicks and your wrinkled lard-a$$ colleagues, it would be perfectly normal to prefer the former

        • Rhett Hardwick

          I mean “Weak” in the sense that you’ve got to see what’s coming, girls don’t keep their mouths shut. Various women I’ve known have described the competition to “get” favored professors at Brown. My favorite was a medieval history professor who, knowing he couldn’t be seen with them, taught them to cook. He would only allow them one semester, then moved on.

    • Rhett Hardwick

      “Entropy, you say you worship the water these guys walk on”
      If Trump walked down the Potomac, across the tidal basin and into the Jefferson Memorial; the papers would report “Trump can’t swim”.

  • ShannonEntropy

    BTW, Rhett… whenever this topic comes up, the image that springs to mind is male teacher / female student

    But in reality it is MUCH more common for female teachers to be sexually abusing waaaay-underage male students. To make matters even more controversial the women are almost always white — and frequently blond — while their ‘victims’ are… well there’s only one demographic group that routinely produces sexually mature eleven yr old boys: “inner-city”, “disadvantaged” “[insert any other racial euphemism you can think of here]”

    And there seems to be a double-standard here… just like everything The Left sticks its nose in:


    • Rhett Hardwick

      “But in reality it is MUCH more common for female teachers”

      Nothing new here. I didn’t go to public high school, but my friends who did kept me advised of the “school nurse”. Gay teachers seem more common in private schools, but I never encountered one (for absolute certainty, the Headmaster and an English Master seemed to have something going on).