Tag Archives: Education

Manatee Country School Board Protects Football Coach, puts Students in Danger

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Manatee High School Hurricanes running backs coach Rod Frazier, age 35, has been charged.

In 2011, the citizens of the United States were enraged at how Penn State school officials were covering up a child molester in order to protect its football program. In 2012, Americans were shocked at how the community of Steubenville, Ohio, was protecting several high school football players of raping a 16-year-old girl. In 2013, I found out that my own hometown school board was protecting its football program. In July 2013, Manatee High School assistant football coach Rod Frazier was charged with seven counts of misdemeanor battery after being accused of inappropriately touching and interacting with female students. As the Bradenton Police Department dove deeper into its investigation, it discovered how Manatee County School Board knew about two allegations, yet allowed him to continue to coach while he was being investigated and was on paid leave. The police also discovered how other Manatee High School employees also witnessed Frazier’s abnormal behavior with female students, but nothing was done to protect the students. Bradenton is now a town that treasures its football program more than the well-being of the students.

Frazier’s Downward Spiral

Manatee High School has five official football state championships, the most recent one being in 2011. Throughout the 2012 season, the football team, the Hurricanes, was ranked #1 in the nation before losing in the playoffs in December. Frazier attended and played football at Manatee High School and University of Florida and he returned to Manatee High School in 2001 to become the assistant football coach. In 2006, he was hired as a parent liaison, the person to whom referrals and other disciplinary actions are first reported at the school, and the weightlifting coach – these two positions now gave him contact with female students.  In 2007, Frazier’s life began a downward spiral: a bank foreclosed his home, the court ordered him to pay child support, and he was arrested for violating a restraining order by his estranged wife. The restraining order was filed after Frazier’s former wife claim he choked her and used cocaine. The wife never pressed charges, so Frazier was released from prison and returned to his job at Manatee High School.

Investigation Begins

On November 15, 2012, Frazier was placed on paid leave pending an investigation of improper conduct. He was instructed to stay off of school board property until further notice, BUT he shows up at Manatee High School the next day to coach the first football playoff game of the season. On January 9, 2013, a letter from a former female student is brought to Manatee High School principal Don Sauer’s office. The letter claims Frazier inappropriately touched the female student, met her in a park, and asked for a naked picture. The student transferred to Palmetto High School to get away from Frazier. On January 10, the student and her mother are interviewed by Debra Horne, the school district investigator (who has been investigated Frazier since November). On January 24, Horne requests to be transferred to another administrative position, “due to a number of unjustified issues that have impacted me personally and professionally.” After the Bradenton Herald-Tribune published a story about how the school board is investigating Frazier, the Bradenton Police Department launches its own investigation on February 7 and Frazier is placed on paid leave…again.

Witnesses Come Forward

The first time Frazier did something inappropriate was August 2008 and the last time was December 2012. During the investigation, the first victim claims Frazier touched her, sent her text messages, asked for naked photos, and told her that he loved her. The student claims she was in Frazier’s office more than 100 times; there was even a time when Frazier pulled her onto his lap in front of another employee, but the employee never reported the incident. Even though other school employees saw a female student go into an adult male’s office with the door closed numerous times, not one of them said anything or questioned why a student is there and not in class. A former parent liaison at the high school, Adinah Torres, has come forward with information about Frazier; she claims he inappropriately rubbed his leg against hers while she was in his office being trained. She reported him to her supervisor, yet nothing was done.  Torres also witnessed girls entering his office and sitting on Frazier’s desk so as soon as she could, Torres found a new job and left Manatee High School due to the uncomfortable environment Frazier caused. Another student claims he slapped her on the buttocks several times and only stopped after she got firm with him. At the moment, the victims include a total of four female students and three female teachers. Bradenton residents have also come forward saying how they and other parents saw how Frazier inappropriately touched female students during weightlifting meets – they claim he would rub up against girls and stroke them. The police say there are at least 50 people who witnessed Frazier’s inappropriate behavior over the years.

School Board Fails

The original school board investigation began on November 15, 2012. Interim Superintendent David Gayler claims the investigation was based on “rumors and innuendos about inappropriate relationships with students.” Even if it’s just rumors, the school board should still take a case seriously and report it to the police since there are children involved. It’s becoming too common for teachers abusing their powers to take control of students. My own high school, Lakewood Ranch High School (which is also in Bradenton), had its own trouble with a track coach sleeping with a 17-year-old female student. Though the student claimed it was consensual (which doesn’t exist when an adult is sleeping with an underage student), Ernest Lee Jones received 5 years in prison. When asked about how Frazier was placed on November 15, but showed up the next day to coach a football game, Gayler stated “If he went back to work after a day, then they couldn’t find anything to attach the complaint.” Frazier was placed on paid leave and ordered not to go on school board property, which includes the school, but he ignored it and went to the high school to coach football. Frazier should not be allowed on school property when he is being investigated for abusing students. Gayler says nothing was discovered about Frazier, but what investigation lasts less than two days? Was there even an official investigation? Horne was in charge of the investigation in November and was given a list of four female students to contact by assistant football coach, Steve Gulash, but she never did! Horne was in charge of finding out if Frazier was abusing four female students, but she never bothered to contact them. When the investigation was re-launched in January after the former student delivered the letter, she asked to be transferred to a new position; she is now an assistant principal at Prine Elementary School. Horne’s job was to determine if Frazier was a threat to children, yet she never bothered to ask one student and now she’s in charge of young children; do you feel safer knowing she’s there? There is also no proof that Manatee High School and the Manatee County School Board reported the potential crimes to the police, which they must do by law.

Bullying

After the first female student came forward about Frazier, she became a victim of cyber bullying because we live in a world where a female is automatically a slut if she is a victim. Gulash saw the bullying on her Facebook page and reported it to the police in April 2013, but he was reprimanded by the school board for not reporting it to his superiors first (even though he went to the Manatee High School principal). Gulash claims he and other staff members were being harassed by Manatee County administrators involved in Frazier’s case and says several employees and students will not come forward because they are afraid of the consequences (the students don’t want to be bullied by fellow students and the teachers don’t want to lose their job in a county that is not hiring teachers for the next year). The mother of the girl being teased also reported bullying to Palmetto High School but nothing was done and the Palmetto Police Department says there is not enough evidence was there for there to be a crime. A high school employee used his power to abuse girls, yet he was protected while the girls are labeled sluts and are teased by fellow students. When does football become more important than a child? When does football become more important than a human being? Never.

Charges are filed

On April 1, Bradenton Police recommend that Frazier be charged and on July 19, the State Attorney’s office charges Frazier with seven counts of misdemeanor battery and three counts of interference with the attendance of a student in school, which are second degree misdemeanors. On July 23, Superintendent Rick Mills announces that the district will reopen its investigation into the Frazier case (because they did such a great job the first two times). On July 25, hundreds of pornographic images are found on Frazier’s school computer and now the police department is trying to discover if the porn is current or former Manatee High School students. Frazier officially resigned  the next day and is now waiting to be arraigned August 8. Besides Frazier, the Bradenton Police force recommends that former assistant superintendent Bob Gagnon, former school investigator Debra Horne, former Manatee High School assistant principal Matthew Kane, and current Manatee High School assistant principal Greg Faller should be charged with failing to report child abuse and lying to the police. As members of the school board, their number one job is the protect children, but none of them did. All of them are still working and at the moment, none of them have been charged even though failing to report suspected child abuse is a crime. They all knew something was going on, yet not one of them did anything to save a child from a monster.

Frazier is not the only criminal

Rod Frazier was an assistant football coach at one of the top high school football programs in the nation. He knew he had power and he abused it by inappropriately touching female students and staff members for several years. Several students, parents, and employees knew Frazier was abusing students, but when it was reported to the Manatee County School board, nothing was done! Debra Horne, a female adult who should care about the interests of female students, failed to investigate the allegations correctly. If the Bradenton Herald-Tribune didn’t write about the allegations in January 2013, then the Bradenton Police Department would never have known about Frazier since NO ONE contacted the police, which is the correct protocol when a CHILD IS SUSPECTED OF BEING ABUSED.  After the Penn State incident, Florida passed the strictest law in the nation for anyone who fails to report child abuse – a possible five year prison sentence. Manatee High School and Manatee County School Board decided that football was more important than children – everyone involved in protecting a monster deserves to face the consequences.

Resources:

Manatee High assistant football coach investigated

Update: Manatee High coach Frazier resigns

Coach protecting student in Frazier case reprimanded

State abuse law passed after Penn State applies in Frazier case

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Stop Punishing the Kids for their Parents’ Choices

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"Every child Needs a Good School Lunch&qu...

“Every child Needs a Good School Lunch”  (Wikipedia)

When I went to school and forgot to bring my money for lunch, I would receive a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich at lunch. But in April 2013, 25 students in a Massachusetts middle school were denied lunch because they could not pay for their lunch. The school was supposed to give the children cheese sandwiches and milk if they forgot their money and not let them go hungry; instead, the students were forced to throw out their food in front of their peers, causing some of them to erupt into tears. As a result, the school fired four employees and will allow all children to eat for free for three days next week. After reading this story, I read some of the readers’ comments how the children should not be given food or reduced-price food if their parents couldn’t afford to pay for lunch – the children should just starve. What happened to caring about the future generation?

The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in American schools; it provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to 31 million children each school day. When my parents were between jobs, I was one of those children until my parents both found jobs. If a school participates in the program, it receives cash subsidies and USDA foods from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Since the program began in 1946, more than 224 billion lunches have been served. In 2011, it cost $11.1 billion for the United States to support this program – an amount that means starving children can eat. When I wake up each morning, I knew I had food in the fridge, but 16.7 million children (22% of American children) don’t know if they get to eat each day.This program guarantees that the child gets at least one nutritious meal  a day – that the child will drink milk and not soda, eat fruit instead of candy – a meal not off the dollar menu. And why should the children suffer for their parents’ mistakes? Why should they go hungry because their mother is working two jobs and there is no father around? Why should they go hungry because both their parents decided to have fifteen children even though they live in a two-bedroom apartment? Why should they go hungry because their parents care more about getting high than staying clean to get a job? If these children aren’t taken care of, then they will never have a future and break out of the cycle.

At the end of January 2013, republican senator Stacy Campfield introduced legislation that would slash welfare benefits for parents whose children get bad grades. They claim it will inspire parents to do a better job parenting, while critics say it will hurt the children. Based on my experience, this will only punish the kid. I grew up with parents that were always there for me; they helped me with my math homework, went over my spelling words, and paid for a tutor to help me with reading. Because of my parents’ help early on, I went on to take honors and advanced placement classes in order to increase my chance of getting a scholarship to a good college – which I did. I was lucky. At my high school, there were several students who could not speak proper English – it was so bad, the teacher could not understand them when they asked questions – and no, they weren’t Hispanic immigrants, they were born and raised in the same town as I was, their parents just never bothered to teach them how to speech English so they had to learn from rap music. You know what I’m talking about, the poor kids with bad parents that have no future and are bound to continue the cycle of being a failure, like their parents.They were the kids who had to ride the school bus while everyone else drove cars to school. They were the kids who ate breakfast at the school cafeteria because there was nothing at home for them to eat. They were the kids who wore clothes from the thrift shop and Goodwill.  They were the kids who dropped out of high school because no one was there to push them to graduate and to tell them that they could become someone. So, cutting welfare will suddenly wake up a parent after 16-years of ignoring their child? Will the absent father suddenly appear knowing that his baby’s mama will be losing welfare that she uses to pay rent? Will the homeless parents suddenly be able to buy a computer for the child to finish his homework? The amount of welfare a recipient receives isn’t that much to begin with – this law was proposed in Tennessee where a single mom with two kids receives $185 a month – as any person knows, that is about three tanks of gas.

Then there are the children who have good parents, but because of an unforeseen circumstance, their parents don’t have the money to provide for them. The parents may be immigrants from a foreign country, hoping the move to the United States will be a better environment to raise their children. The parents may be tomato pickers working for dirt money, but they want their children to become lawyers, doctors, teachers, and engineers. And there are the children living on the streets with their parents because both parents lost their jobs because of the bad economy. The parents don’t want their children spending the nights in shelter and worrying about food, they want the children to graduate school and get a stable job. A mother leaving her abusive husband and taking her children to a women’s shelter won’t have the money to spend on her children if the father spent their joint-banking account on beer. She just wants her children to eat low-cost meals at school while she saves money for a new house. These parents are doing their best to provide for their children, but need some help so that their children will live up to their potential. How can Americans turn their backs on these families?

Instead of trying to take away food and welfare from a child because of bad parents or bad life events, the government should be trying to make sure the child doesn’t end up like his parent – that he graduates from high school, goes to college, finds a job, and raises a happy family instead of turning to drugs, alcohol, sex, and crime. Countless studies have shown that children with a low-education or drop out of school are more likely to become teenage parents, commit a crime and go to jail, turn to drugs and alcohol, and end up on welfare – each year the federal government spends $38 billion on teenage pregnancy, $74 billion on jails, $15 billion on the war of drugs, and $193 billion on welfare for a total of $320 billion – numbers that will only increase if children continue to be punished for their parents’ choices. Instead of being furious that government spends $11.1 a year to ensure that 31 million children eat one decent meal a day, they should be furious that they and their government continues to fail millions of children each year. These children, no matter if they have bad, average, or great parents, deserve a chance to receive lunch at school every day. Whenever a budget needs to be cut, the budget that effects the future generation is always the first one to go. That needs to change.

Black History Month: Is it Time for it to Go?

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I remember when I was in seventh grade (year 2002) walking outside the African Studies Club classroom. The Black History Month assignment was to write a short essay about who were the students’ Black role models. On the wall were pictures of Martin Luther King Jr., Oprah, Tiger Woods, and Michael Jordan. All the students in the club managed to pick the same four people – one is the most famous Civil Rights Icon, one is a billionaire talk-show host, and the other two are athletes. I thought the purpose of Black History Month was to show Black children how Blacks have been contributing to the United States’ history for hundreds of years, not the past decade in sports.

English: Portrait of African-American historia...

Carter Godwin Woodson.  (Wikipedia)

Black History Month began in 1926 when Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced that the second week of February was to be Negro History Week because it marked the birthday of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Woodson’s purpose was to show the Black youth that they should be proud of their skin color and to show White society that Black people have contributed to American History. Woodson hoped that one day Negro History Week would be eliminated when Black History became fundamental to American History. Instead, Black History week became a whole month; meanwhile Hispanics were granted September/October, Native Americans received November, Asian and Pacific Islanders attained May, Gays and Lesbians acquired June, and Women obtained March. Instead of making sure that minority groups’ History was incorporated into American History in schools, the American government awarded each minority group one whole month to educate society about why its group is important. As a woman, I can say it takes more than one month to celebrate all the women throughout history. I am not the only critic of minority months, each February Black People criticize the month dedicated to them and their history. “Like college honorary degrees conferred on blacks and renaming streets in inner city neighborhoods for African-American heroes, Black History Month, in the opinion of many, is simply a guilt-driven public relations scam to pacify blacks,” says Earl Ofari Hutchinson, President of the National Alliance for Positive Action. “You’re going to relegate my history to a month. I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history,” says actor Morgan Freeman. Instead of creating months for every heritage/gender/sexual orientation in the world, the government should make sure that the public school teachers are teaching all of America’s history.

Growing up, Black History Month to me meant that television channels would show 30-second clip on a famous Black person. Luckily, February was not the only time I learned about famous Black people; I learned about Black History throughout the whole school year. In elementary school I was taught about Civil Rights Heroes Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, and inventor George Washington Carver. In Middle School I was taught about the slave trade, slavery in the South, the Civil War, and Harriet Tubman’s role in the Underground Railroad. In High School English I read literature from W.E.B. Du Bois, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, Alex Haley, and Maya Angelou. In High School History, I was taught about the slave Dred Scott vs. Sandford. Today I am still learning about Black History: I saw Maya Angelou speak at my college, I recently read “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and last month while visiting Thomas Edison’s Winter Home, I learned about Edison’s Black assistant, Lewis Latimer, who helped him create a better light bulb, later becoming a patent consultant to law firms. Due to my experiences in the public school system, I believe Woodson’s goal of intertwining Black History with American History was successful, a reason why Black History Month is no longer needed.

The four girls killed in the bombing (Clockwis...

The four girls killed in the Church bombing (Clockwise from top left, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair) (Wikipedia)

I learned about History not from a month but from my teachers, my books, my travels, my experiences – by my wanting to learn about it. I went to the same school as the African Studies Club members did, yet I could list more Black role models than their whole club could. The teachers are teaching the students about Black History, but do the students realize how important it is? Children need to realize how important it is to know where they came from, as Marcus Garvey said “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” Instead of showing 30 second clips on famous Black people on television every February, society should be talking about how to get the younger generation interested in Black History throughout the whole year. It could be as simple as just suggesting that they read “Roots” or “I know Why the Caged Bird Sings” to learn about Black History. Maybe they need to read old newspaper articles online about the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing to see how bad it was in South in the 1960s (victims are shown to the right). Maybe parents just need to sit down and talk to their children about important Black Historical Figures, such as athletes Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson, whom led the way for all the current Black athletes.

Though I was taught about Black History throughout the school year, there are schools out there that do not stress the importance of Blacks in American History. Instead of society letting Black History month teach the students, parents should be contacting the schools about why Black History is not being taught throughout the year or the parents should teach their children themselves. In fact, all parents should be keeping an eye on their children’s school curriculum since there are schools across the country cutting all history classes since several politicians and educators don’t believe history is useful in a math/science world. This means children are not learning about Black History, Native American History, Women History, and even White Men History. At the pace America is heading, even America is going to need its own month to teach children why its history is important…one measly month.

Sources:

“Black History Month: Education or Tokenism?” The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 3 (1994): 30-31. Print.