Schools mishandling abuse not named Board member chides PTA head for asking


Anne Arundel County school board members refused again yesterday to release the names of schools where administrators did not report suspected child abuse cases properly and blasted the president of the Council of PTAs for asking them to do so.

"It does our young students no service to announce the names of the schools," board member Maureen Carr-York told Carolyn Roeding, the PTA council president, during yesterday's board meeting.

"We'll have reporters on the doorstep the same way we did at Northeast High School last year," Ms. Carr-York said.

"I honestly don't feel releasing the names is going to be of any use when we've identified the problem and five of the nine people are no longer in the system," she said.

Board members lately have said Mrs. Roeding is using the issue for political gain. Mrs. Roeding is a Democratic candidate for a House of Delegates seat in District 31.

Mrs. Roeding told the board that parents have a right to know the names of the schools in the cases cited in a recent report by investigator Alan I. Baron. Superintendent C. Berry Carter II resigned after the report faulted his handling of suspected child abuse cases.

Mrs. Roeding said failure to release the information "will further erode public trust and confidence" in the board.

"I don't think that's fair, and I don't think that's accurate," said board member Jo Ann Tollenger.

But Mrs. Roeding defended her actions, saying the board is "trying to take the spotlight off of them and is sending the message 'Don't ask questions.' "

In other action, the board approved a health unit that teaches students about relationships, dating and abstinence. Parental permission is not required for the class.

The topic sparked surprise testimony from Joseph Carducci, principal at Northeast High School -- where two teachers were arrested this spring on charges of sexually abusing students.

Saying he was speaking "as a citizen," Dr. Carducci told the board the new unit, followed by another class on sexuality taught only with parent permission, sends a double message to students.

"We're saying 'We know you can't handle abstinence, you're not strong enough and we need to give you an antidote' " by teaching students about the use of condoms, Dr. Carducci said.

Dr. Carducci -- who instituted a short-lived policy in 1991 that mandated he be told when students were considering abortions -- urged the board to insist that the portion of the class devoted to abstinence last three weeks.

But student board member Desira St. Pierre, a senior at Broadneck High School, told Dr. Carducci that "kids are going to have sex. We can't say it's not going on."

Ms. St. Pierre said she knew a lot of 17-year-olds who feel they're not ready to have sex, "and I'm one of them, but the reality is that teens are getting pregnant and are falling into the trap. They have to be educated, and that's our job."

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