Famous legal cases are necessary because they help to set certain precedents for lawmakers to observe and learn from. In many cases, these intense cases lead to the creation of more laws as a result of the methods or findings concerning the suspects’ guilt or innocence of the crime. This is especially true in the world of education, where children are exposed to teachers who might be criminals, as many of the cases in Pennsylvania show. This paper will examine two of these cases and how exactly they impacted the world of both law and education.
The first case to be examined is rather disturbing because it deals with a teacher making inappropriate sexual advances toward a female fourth-grader, who has remained anonymous throughout the details of the case. This case, Department of Education v. Joseph Corrado, deals with a fourth-grade teacher, Corrado, giving gifts and preferential treatment to the unnamed female student, who was reported to be only ten years old. Eventually, this escalated to a full-on expression of romantic feelings toward this student and repeated attempts to go to her house or otherwise find time alone with her. Eventually, the parents complained, and Corrado was taken to court. The legal doctrine used in this case is Title VII of the sexual harassment, which lawmakers determined consisted of "discrimination based on sex," which is the only requirement to qualify for Title VII (Franke, 1996). This doctrine can be especially painful when used against teachers, since a school is, for the teacher, the workplace. A teacher who has had a Title VII doctrine placed against them will have an extremely difficult time getting back into the teaching business after being found guilty. For this reason, Corrado was doomed from the very beginning. The due process that is mentioned or inferred in this case was scant, or at least that is what Corrado argues. He says, in his own defense, that, aside from much of the evidence being hearsay, that his procedural due rights were violated (Corrado, 2000). Corrado said that he lacked reasonable certainty about the charges against him and was thus, unable to properly prepare for the trial (Corrado, 2000). Corrado also argued further that his procedural rights were violated in that some of the prosecutorial evidence presented at the hearing was not in the Notice of Charges and that it constituted "approximately thirteen additional charges" (Corrado, 2000). These allegations were untrue, as the Department had clearly outlined the charges against him, and had done so in writing, and in excruciating detail; documenting every report of sexual misconduct on his part. Corrado argued a number of times that due process was violated over the course of his trial, with limited success. For instance, he argued that the proceedings under the Professional Educator Discipline Act had been sullied by the joining of the Department of Education and the Commission, which, he argued, represented a conflict of interest (Corrado, 2000). He had a number of reasons for this, from the fact that the Chair of the Commission also sat on the State Board of Education, to the rather ridiculous claim that the Commission used Department of Education envelopes. These allegations were, of course, shot down by the Commission.
The Commission found Corrado guilty and that his conduct represented an "insidious and escalating pattern" (Corrado, 2000). They also found that Corrado's conduct reflected an inexcusable poor judgment that offended not just the victim and her parents, but also the trust the community placed in him, as well as the public school system as a whole. Specifically, the Commission found that Corrado was guilty of immorality, although originally the Commission had found him guilty of not just immorality, but cruelty as well. As for the consequences of the case, the Commission recommended that Corrado's teaching certificate be revoked (Corrado, 2000). The case had little impact on the educational community as a whole outside of Pennsylvania, but within the state, it attracted a great deal of attention, and no doubt caused many within that school district that Corrado worked to lose trust and respect for many of the teachers within.
The second case deals with a different, more serious type of sexual misconduct with a minor. In the Department of Education v. Charles Boguslawski, Boguslawski, the defendant, was accused of direct and extremely inappropriate touching of children. It was reported that Boguslawski, a fourth-grade teacher, touched his students multiple times in multiple areas, including the stomach and penis; behavior that would be grounds for serious repercussions even outside of the purview of elementary education (Boguslawski, 2002). This time, the legal doctrine that was to be utilized for this case was negligence, on the grounds that Boguslawski had lost a large measure of self-control when he began touching children inappropriately and was thus deemed intemperate and negligent (Boguslawski, 2002). In law, negligence is generally considered to be defined as the failure of a person to provide a reasonable amount of protection for another human, especially ones that they care for, such as a teacher to a child, or a mother to her baby (Weinrib, 1983). Boguslawski qualified for this because he obviously failed to protect the children from harm physically, by touching them, but also mentally and emotionally, by acting upon them in such a way that they could be scarred for life. Another factor that led to the charges was that Boguslawski would only touch these children at a very specific time: when he was positive that he was completely shielded from eyesight of other teachers, who were, most of the time, nearby, thanks to the makeup of the room (Boguslawski, 2002). Fortunately for the defendant, there was little actual evidence against him in this case, save for a great deal of testimony. Due process was followed diligently in order to effectively utilize the testimony of the two children, which was consistent and, the court found, believable, that Boguslawski touched in order to convict him of the charges of which he was accused. Another interesting application of due process comes in the form of using the testimony of one of the children (who, as in the last case, remain anonymous) for the lesser crime of touching above the beltline so as to establish the credibility of the child and use that same child to testify for the greater charge of touching the genitalia of the children (Boguslawski, 2002). This system was used multiple times: using the statements of one of the two victims in order to corroborate the statement of the other, and they lined up every single time, which allowed their testimony to be extremely valuable assets for the prosecution, even though the victims were mere fourth graders (Boguslawski, 2002). Lastly, due process was used to ascertain whether or not the fourth graders would have any reason to lie to prosecutors, or anyone else, about the sexual assault by Boguslawski, and the courts could find none. Later, Boguslawski attempted to impeach the testimony of these two children by disputing the timing of the sexual abuse, which was not effective for Boguslawski. Not surprisingly, Boguslawski was found guilty of intemperance and overall negligence, and his teaching license was revoked, although it seems likely that other charges will be filed against him as well (Boguslawski, 2002). As with the other case mentioned, this was not a groundbreaking case, although, for the Armstrong School District, where the crime took place, it no doubt garnered much attention.
Individually, these cases, especially the sexual harassment and other sexual violation cases, might seem irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, but they erode the integrity of the school system in general, and it is for this reason that crimes committed against children, especially by teachers, are treated so seriously. These sexual deviants affect not just the children with their violations, but the parents, the community and collective of teachers as a whole, dragging down credibility to their level. Teachers have a responsibility to protect their students, and cases like these cause many people to question them, which is unfair to most teachers.
Department of Education v. Charles Boguslawski, PSPC Docket No. DI-01-10 (2002) Retrieved from Pennsylvania Department of Education Database
Department of Education v. Joseph Corrado, PSPC Docket No. DI-00-21 (2000). Retrieved from Pennsylvania Department of Education Database
Franke, K. M. (1996). What's wrong with sexual harassment. Stan. L. Rev., 49, 691.
Weinrib, E. J. (1983). Toward a moral theory of negligence law. In Justice, Rights, and Tort Law (pp. 123-148). Springer Netherlands.