A D.C. council member is calling for the city’s education officials to take action after two former Duke Ellington School of the Arts students said they were sexually abused by a teacher who has since resigned.
In a letter sent to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, Council member Brooke Pinto called the alleged sexual misconduct “extraordinarily troubling” and is demanding new measures be put in place to better protect students.
Joined by @AllisterSBOE, I sent a letter to @OSSEDC regarding recently reported & extraordinarily troubling stories of sexual misconduct at @DukeEllingtonDC. Ensuring our children are kept safe must be our upmost priority. pic.twitter.com/a5rqg7WmQq
— Councilmember Brooke Pinto (@CMBrookePinto) January 31, 2022
“Attention must be paid to the systemic lapses and changes must be made,” said Pinto. Duke Ellington is located on R Street Northwest in Ward 2, which Pinto represents.
In the letter, Pinto requested the OSSE respond with steps they will be taking “to prevent future predatory behavior” at Duke Ellington and all D.C. Public Schools. She also wants DCPS to maintain a centralized system of personnel files for Duke Ellington teachers.
According to an investigation by WTOP’s news partners NBC Washington, which first reported the story, a lack of a centralized record-keeping system at Duke Ellington and DCPS may have led to the teacher not being properly investigated.
The teacher was an employee of Duke Ellington and not of DCPS, which had no record of him. He was never charged.
The two female students were allegedly groomed and sexually abused by their writing teacher nearly a decade apart, in 2004 and 2013.
The teacher was put on leave in 2004, after the first reports of misconduct, but allowed to return in 2005. He was put on leave again in 2018 for alleged misconduct toward the second student. He resigned in 2019.
Both women told NBC Washington that during that time, they were not formally interviewed by police or by the school district.
Pinto said she’s “extremely concerned” that D.C. police didn’t conduct a thorough investigation.
“The apparent lack of action on behalf of MPD in this case is unacceptable,” Pinto said.
D.C. police told WTOP they are now actively looking into the misconduct allegations against the former teacher.
In a statement on the school website, Duke Ellington’s current principal Sandi M. Logan thanked the former students for coming forward.
“Our community must be ever more vigilant, cooperative and communicative and working together to ensure the safety and well-being of the children entrusted to our care,” Logan said.
Logan said the school has since taken a number of actions, including launching a new record-keeping system, creating an app for students to anonymously report alleged sexual harassment, and training staff on their responsibilities to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct in the school.