The Keith Haring video that was shown to Des Moines Children by Wright Elementary art teacher Karen Maresh crossed a line and needs to be dealt with in such a way that both sends a strong message to other teachers, and which will help to repair the trust that has been breached with parents and students.
According to the Des Moines Register, school officials are refusing to make the findings of their investigation public, and that they will not tell parents how the situation is ultimately handled. That is unacceptable. Parents trust their children to the care of public school teachers and deserve to know that inappropriate actions like those of Ms. Maresh are dealt with appropriately. The school district cannot expect parents to trust them if they fail to behave in a trustworthy and transparent manner.
The sort of sexually graphic imagery that Wright Elementary students were exposed to was not only offensive, but very likely criminal.
Reports from last evening indicate that Ms. Maresh will not face criminal charges. However, a Google search of Iowa Code on pornography leads to section 728.2 which deals with the “dissemination and exhibition of obscene material to minors.” According to that portion of Iowa law, “Any person, other than the parent or guardian of the minor, who knowingly disseminates or exhibits obscene material to a minor, including the exhibition of obscene material so that it can be observed by a minor on or off the premises where it is displayed, is guilty of a public offense and shall upon conviction be guilty of a serious misdemeanor.” It seems fairly obvious that this is what happened.
So, in addition to the school administration rushing to shield a teacher from the public scrutiny that should result from her poor choices, we also have a county attorney who is unwilling to represent the most innocent and defenseless members of our community. Our children deserve better.
This school year is nearly over. With less than two weeks left, the administration may hope that this will all blow over during the summer months. I am asking other parents to join me in demanding strong action and complete transparency as this process moves forward. We are not required to send our children to public schools, and this is exactly the sort of event in the life of a school district that causes parents like myself to give serious consideration to other options for educating our children.
The eyes of the community are on Wright Elementary, and the credibility of the entire Des Moines Public School District is on the line. It is now up to them to do the right thing.
PTA President of Wright Elementary School
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