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Over the weekend, the Miami Herald published a shocking story about a serial abuser in a local middle school. They report,
Middle school physical education teacher Wendell Nibbs sat down with a detective looking into allegations that he had asked a 14-year-old student when she would let him see her genitals.
He spoke like a man who had been here before — and he had, many times.
“I can see why the district is looking into this allegation,” said Nibbs, who was an imposing presence at Brownsville Middle School at 6 feet 4 inches and about 250 pounds. “I have a few other allegations attached as well. I guess when there’s smoke, there’s fire.”
That account comes from Miami-Dade Public Schools Police Detective Bernise Charley’s investigative report from 2015.Itwas the fifth allegation of sexual misconduct involving a student Nibbs had faced in 11 years. Four more students would come forward after that. The Department of Children and Families was contacted three times.
The headline asks “How did this middle school teacher stay so long while girls said he was molesting them?” Before I even began reading, I knew the answer. The only way you can stay in this powerful of a position around children while you’re abusing them is when you have an even more powerful body protecting you. In this case, it’s the teacher’s union. The Herald goes on to explain, lower in the piece,
While his students filed complaint after complaint against him, Nibbs rose into the teachers union’s inner circle. He spent eight years as a building steward and was a forceful advocate for the current UTD leadership. He campaigned with that group three years ago — while under investigation for groping a fellow teacher, an allegation found to be unsubstantiated.
I would say “imagine how much ink would be spilled if another powerful body in the United States was this complicit in the abuse of children…” but we don’t have to imagine. The Catholic Church has received its fair share of negative publicity (and it’s a fair share, and I would argue not enough), but teacher’s unions receive none from our national media. Both are bodies that are supposed to occupy high moral ground, but unlike the Church, the mission of unions isn’t to protect kids, but protect teachers, even when those interests conflict. Even when teachers are abusing kids. No matter what a teacher does, no matter how little they work, how toxic they are, the job of their union is to keep them in their job.
It would be nice if more mainstream journalists turned abuse by public school teachers and the work of unions to protect them into an actual beat. Like religion reporters have devoted time and energy to the abuse scandals among America’s faiths, education reporters should expand their focus on the evils that take place in our public schools, and how unions enable them.
Are there other stories about abuse making the rounds in your area? Comment below with links or stories about similar situations similar to what we saw in Miami.