A former educator who was fired after an administrative judge determined he sexually harassed two middle school teachers and an eighth-grade student was recently hired as one of the directors for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County.
Monroe Shannon, 48, started Oct. 9 as director for the youth organization’s Riviera Beach club. He joins an organization that has had its own troubles with sexual misconduct in recent years, including a 32-year-old employee who impregnated a 16-year-old volunteer, as well as two older boys who molested an 11-year-old girl.
The allegations against Shannon were detailed in a 2015 story in the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The story is the first entry that appears in a Google search for Shannon’s name.
“We were not aware of this history when we offered him a job,” said President and CEO Jaene Miranda.
Shannon did pass “the most stringent background check required by the state for people working with children,” Miranda said. This includes a review of Florida and FBI criminal records, Florida child abuse and neglect records and a sex offender registry.
She said there have been no allegations of sexual misconduct since Shannon joined Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County.
Shannon lost his job with the Palm Beach County School District in 2015 as the result of complaints made while he was an assistant principal at Congress Middle in Boynton Beach. Administrative Law Judge Scott Boyd reviewed the case and found allegations made by two teachers and one student to be credible.
-- In September 2011, a teacher told a school administrator that Shannon remarked about the stiletto heels she was wearing at an open house. "I really like those heels. I would like to see you only in those heels,” she quoted him as saying.
-- Another teacher, who was 23, sought Shannon's advice on how to handle a seventh-grade student who was frequently making sexual remarks to her. Shannon’s response, the teacher told her principal, was, “Well, you know you are a sexy teacher. What do you expect?” He also told her class, “You have a really sexy teacher,” she reported.
-- In February 2012, an eighth-grader at Congress reported to a teacher that Shannon put his arm around her in the hallway and whispered in her ear, “You need a man.”
Although the district terminated him at the end of the 2011-12 school year, the principal of Carver Middle in Delray Beach rehired him as a teacher for the next school year without the knowledge of her bosses, according to a Department of Education investigation.
Districts are required to inform the Education Department of any teacher or administrator who has been under investigation, so the state can decide whether to take action against the educator’s license. After Judge Boyd found the allegations credible, the state revoked his license for two years, which made him ineligible to work in the district. The district fired him in 2015, and the Education Department fined him $2,000 as part of his sanctions.
“These inappropriate behaviors of Mr. Shannon seriously reduced his effectiveness as an employee in the school district,” the judge wrote.
Shannon is now eligible to reapply for a teaching license and work in a school again.
Shannon denies the allegations and said he’d never had any previous discipline in his 20 years with the district. He moved from an assistant principal’s job at an elementary school to Congress Middle in the fall of 2011. He said some people disliked him because he had a no-nonsense approach to student discipline.
“Just because students make allegations and teachers make similar allegations doesn’t mean they’re true,” Shannon said. “Congress is a tough school, and I put in new rules to get the school in order. A lot of people didn’t agree with my decisions.”
He was praised by Lena Roundtree Wallace, his principal at Carver, who testified that “Mr. Shannon was very student-oriented, did everything that was expected of him, and worked professionally.”
Miranda said the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County, which has 13 clubs in the county serving nearly 8,000 children, has strong anti-harassment and child protection policies in place. Employees must sign paperwork acknowledging the club’s policies on harassment and sexual misconduct.
“The Boys & Girls Club of Palm Beach County has zero tolerance for any inappropriate or illegal behavior involving club staff, members or volunteers,” she said. “Any allegation of inappropriate conduct, regardless of severity, is reported to the appropriate authorities, and we provide our full cooperation with their independent investigation into the matter. If any such allegations are determined to be credible, they would result in immediate termination.”
“Even prior to the national debate surrounding sexual abuse and harassment, Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County has conducted sexual harassment training and will continue to do so,” Miranda said.
The club has faced at least two incidents in recent years involving sexual misconduct.
In 2014, Corey Collier, a Wellington Boys & Girls Club staff member, impregnated a 16-year-old girl who was volunteering at the club. Collier, who was 32 at the time, was convicted of unlawful sexual activity in 2015 and sentenced to two years in prison.The club settled a civil lawsuit brought by the victim, but the terms were not publicly disclosed.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County also paid $160,000 last year to settle a lawsuit involving an 11-year-old girl who was molested by two boys, aged 13 and 14, at a summer camp at the Riviera Beach club in 2011. Police arrested the two boys and the case went through the juvenile court system, so the outcome is not public.
In the civil suit, the organization’s initial response appeared to blame the victim.
The 11-year-old girl “conducted herself in a careless and negligent manner,” and that negligence caused or contributed to her injuries, the organization wrote in court papers filed Dec. 2, 2013. The court document was drafted by lawyers with the Hollywood firm of Conroy Simberg. The firm faced criticism in October after the Sun Sentinel reported it used the same defense, known as “comparative negligence,” in a case where four third-graders were molested by their teacher.
Despite using this defense, “the Boys & Girls Clubs does not believe that minors could be responsible for their own abuse,” Miranda said in a statement.
The incident was captured by video surveillance, and several employees said in depositions that there was inadequate supervision and that the club violated its own rules by not separating children by age and gender, according to documents in the civil case.
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