I'm writing to you as a concerned parent who has lived and raised our children in Moraga for nearly 10 years due to our belief that Moraga is a wonderful, bucolic small town for our children to grow up in. My wife and I have been very involved in Moraga through a variety of volunteer activities from extensive school volunteering to the Town of Moraga Planning Commission to Meals-on-Wheels. We have always felt that our children are getting a tremendous education in a safe environment but over the last week, this trust has been called into question through the latest information written in the Contra Costa Times about the 1990s' sexual abuse scandal and Principal Walters not reporting these cases to law enforcement at the time. It is with sadness that I write this letter as it has the potential for propagating a negative perception of Moraga (which can impact all Moraga citizens) but my duty and responsibility as a parent for my children's safety is paramount.
For any parent reading this, you will understand that we are, first and foremost, concerned for the safety of our children and put our trust in the superintendent, the School District Board, principals, teachers, and fellow parents to ensure their safety. Unfortunately this trust has been seriously called into question by most importantly learning about possible inaction by Mr. Walters in reporting sexual abuse but also learning about it directly from the media (Contra Costa Times and even more impactful is that the writer is the parent of a student at a Moraga elementary school) and not proactively through the Moraga School District institution that we have trusted to proactively ensure the safety of our children.
Given that events have transpired the way they have, we are simply looking for answers as to what happened, why, and how this will not happen again to ensure our children's safety along with that of future Moraga students. Superintendent Burns has attempted to assuage our fears and concerns through two emails to Moraga parents that describe the current policies and practices in place as well as limited information about internal investigative work that he has performed. Unfortunately he must be bound by certain laws that limit him from disclosing more detailed information that is necessary to put us at ease.
I fully understand that we and the other parents in Moraga do not have the full story to know what to fully believe. But as an appointed member of the Town of Moraga Planning Commission, I understand the importance of full transparency and providing insight into people's rationale for decision making that is grounded in law, policy, and, in this case, our children's safety. We need that transparency in this case to help us rebuild the platform of trust necessary to work on the other issues our District faces such as our strategic plan and how to scholastically enable our children for the 21st century.
My wife and I along with other parents have written directly to Superintendent Burns asking for answers to our questions through a formal investigation. Some of these questions include:
- Why did Mr. Walters not report the sexual abuse accusations at the time to law enforcement as the law states and should misdemeanor charges be brought against Mr. Walters?
- What other school administrators (superintendents, Board members) at the time and currently were aware of this violation of mandatory reporting and what is their culpability in this matter?
- What are we doing as a District to ensure this doesn't happen again and how does the District proactively communicate to parents on what they are doing to ensure the safety of our children?
The intent of these questions is not too purposely harm any specific individual especially those who have dedicated their lives and volunteer efforts to education but rather to illuminate parents on the situation so we can trust the School District institution to protect our children. Superintendent Burns has committed to a formal investigation but we are still waiting to hear the specifics of the investigation, how it will be run objectively, and when we can expect it to be completed. In addition, there is a Moraga School District Board meeting on June 12th in which we have asked that this issue is on the agenda and the Board provides clarity for parents on the next steps in addressing this situation.
My reason for writing to you, Mr. Editor, is to help educate other parents in Moraga and the greater Lamorinda community so they too can ensure their children's safety. In addition, I felt that this was an important issue to help other Moraga and Lamorinda citizens better understand as our towns and school districts are integrally connected together.