Saturday, August 12, 2006

Wonkitorial: Beaumont's Hormone High

If the facts are as stated, there is something seriously wrong with the academic culture of one high school down in Beaumont, Texas:
A ninth-grade coach/teacher’s aide at Ozen High School and a former student at the school were both indicted Thursday, Aug. 10, by a Jefferson County grand jury for sexual offenses against at least one female student that are alleged to have occurred in the athletic field house at the high school. Tommy Floyd Granger, a teacher’s aide who at one time was also a ninth-grade coach, was indicted on charges of indecency with a child and Byron Aaron Bell, the former student, was indicted on charges of sexual assault of a child.

According to information obtained by The Examiner, Granger and Bell were involved with what was known as The 3K Club, which provided ninth- and tenth-grade girls to several athletes for sexual favors. The 3K Club is short for “Koochie Kissing Klick.” The case was presented to the grand jury by the Beaumont Police Department, which began an investigation after the alleged victim confided in her mother. Detective Sgt. John Boles said the incident took place in 2001, when the girl was 14 years old. He said the teen was inducted into what was commonly known to students at the school as The 3K Club, in which underclassmen girls were presented to upperclassmen boys for sexual favors. “I have no idea how long this has been going on but we know this club has been around since at least 2001,” Boles said in an interview with The Examiner. “It was pretty common knowledge amongst the students and recent graduates of the school that I spoke with.” When asked how or why young girls were recruited into The 3K Club, Boles said that it was his understanding that girls were introduced to upperclassmen and recent graduates that “they were enamored with.” Boles said that both Granger and Bell were believed to have committed sexual acts with the alleged victim in the field house. Boles said that investigators are holding back some of the information in the case because they are hopeful that other victims will come forward. “Basically, what we believe happened was there was an organized sexual activity that occurred between Byron Bell, Tommy Granger and the victim,” Boles said. “The sexual offenses occurred at Ozen and, to my understanding, it was in the field house. I attempted to contact both suspects and neither of them wanted to talk to me.”

Several students questioned by The Examiner laughed when asked about The 3K Club. Nearly all of those students said they knew what it was. Boles said the girl, whose name he is not releasing, had been upset about the events and decided that she wanted to let her mother know what had been going on. “This is a really good kid,” Boles said. “It was a tough thing for her to do. You know, we probably don’t investigate half of the sexual offenses that occur because victims never come forward to report them. This was a brave thing to do."

BISD spokesperson Jolene Ortego said she was just now getting details of the indictments and could not comment until she had more information. “This is the first I have heard of it,” Ortego said in a telephone interview. “At the present time, it would be inappropriate for me to make a statement.”

When contacted, Bell refused to give any information about the 3K Club and said that he could not comment. “I wasn’t aware (of the indictment),” Bell said on the telephone. “I can’t answer any questions.” At that point, Bell, who sounded groggy, abruptly hung up the phone. Attempts to reach Granger were unsuccessful as his telephone number is unlisted. A check into his status as a teacher and his education certificate from the State Board of Educator Certification showed that his teaching certificate as a Teacher’ Aide III was inactive. He was paid $16,000 a year as an aide at BISD but when he was coaching, he received an additional $3,600 a year.
There's more (from another source) here.

Even though the incident that happened in Beaumont raises a number of serious issues, here's one question that as a society we need to reach consensus on:
In this post-NCLB era of increased accountability, (for public school educators, and public school educators alone) how can we foster a serious and business-like academic atmosphere on our public high school campuses without turning them into a daily grind for staff and students alike?
With the federal government now insisting that 100% of America's school children be able to read, know science, and do math, (all at grade-level) something must be done to change the notion that all-too-many students (and apparently some staff) have that high school is just one large playground where the focus is anything but academics.
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