The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
School of Law

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Ethics is not free
Tom Smith

Helix high school, out towards my neck of the woods, or brush, rather, has had a rash of incidents involving teachers having sex with their students.  Now the high school has hired an ethics expert to see what's up, and try to make this stop.  This is going to cost the school district $43,000.

One of the teachers, widely admired I have heard, is off to jail, as the student in question was underage at the time of the shenanigans.  One poster in the comment section of the UT story opined that the student in question was a well-known hussy, or words to that effect, given to sitting in the laps of teachers, flirting and the like.  One can easily imagine how this sort of thing could happen, especially if the man involved was a complete idiot.

I'm all for ethics.  But do you really need to spend 40 large to bring in an expert to tell high school teachers not to have sex with their students?  What can a consultant possibly add to the message already being sent by the state of California, which is slinging the butt of one of these guys into da big house, where his sex life is likely to be a lot less appealing than anything involving high school bad girls?  How about a sign in the faculty lounge that says "Beyond the Pale, Go to Jail!" or something even catchier (but less expensive that $43,000), or "This is Fat Eddy.  How'd ya like to be his honey?"

It's not the money that offends me.  It's the stupidity.  What on earth is this consultant going to say?  What is there to say?  You can't have sex with your students, O Soccer Coach.  That's just kind of it, isn't it?  You may want to, but you can't.  Go for a run.  Kick 500 penalty kicks.  Or whatever.  Same for you, O lady teacher.  (One the offenders is in fact female.)  Do we need an ethics consultant to explain why we should not rob banks?  "But doctor, there's money in there, and I want it . . . It just seems so wrong!"

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Tom Smith


It's an indulgence.

Posted by: Michael F. Martin | Jun 27, 2008 11:21:14 AM

The School District's lawyers doubtless told them that the $43K would save them many times more in legal fees, damages, embarrassment, etc. down the road when they were sued for failing to take adequate steps to prevent the next similar incident. Yeah, it's BS and useless in all ways except as something to point to to show how seriously you took the problem. Otherwise, the plaintiff's counsel just trots out an expert witness to testify that the District could have taken reasonable steps to avoid a recurrence, that expert witness doubtless being an ethicist who charges $43K to prevent further outbreaks of student teacher sex. Of course, even the $43K ethics seminar may not do the trick, but at least the District will have taken steps.

Posted by: salaryman | Jun 27, 2008 12:56:40 PM

Do you mean to imply that there's a heavy effing fee?

Posted by: enemyofthepeople | Jun 27, 2008 9:30:08 PM

What salaryman said. It always amuses me when law professors complain about how stupid the legal system is in its operation, as if the law were some strange tribal culture that most law professors have never seen.

Posted by: y81 | Jun 28, 2008 7:46:53 AM

As Albert E. said, problems are never solved at the same level of awareness that created them. The entity that hired these clowns is the very one not comptetent to deal with them. But since that entity will obviously not fire themselves, a shell game is in order.
The idea that ethics could be taught to an adult is so patently ridiculous it could only be offered by the types of people who claim to educate children.

Posted by: james wilson | Jun 28, 2008 10:04:25 AM

Not only do I think that teachers shouldn't bonk students, I think that Presidents should steer clear of interns. Femininists would once have agreed, until the President in question was theirs.

Posted by: dearieme | Jun 28, 2008 11:29:57 AM

For about a dollar (plus few few bucks in copying charges at Kinko's), I could have gotten the teacher's lounges and office areas pretty well plastered over with a slew of "Don't F&*k The Students" posters.

Posted by: krome | Jun 30, 2008 9:07:46 AM