Michael Bremont, the Director of the Redmond Proficiency Academy, in Bend, Oregon, was charged with sodomy, rape, attempted rape and sexual abuse according to KATU.com. Court records show that a relationship allegedly began in 2009 and that the administrator flirted with a 15-year-old female student as the relationship developed. This incident raises important and recurring school safety issues.
This case illustrates the need for well thought out policies on contacts between students and staff using the various forms of social media. It also highlights how sexual predators who obtain employment with or volunteer for schools often use the process of “grooming” to seduce students by a series of interactions that test the likelihood that the child will engage in sex with the adult.
Policies, training and enforcement of policies on staff and volunteer conduct are extremely important in trying to address the ever present risk of sexual exploitation by school staff and volunteers in schools. School officials should operate their organizations with an understanding that while current best practices in employee screening can be extremely helpful, they have inherent limitations. By assuming that in spite of the best efforts in screening employees and volunteers, a sexual predator may be selected to work with children. School administrators can implement structure that will make it more likely that predators will be identified sooner, hopefully before they can abuse children and youth. While sexual predators in schools look like any other employee, often have excellent academic credentials and are frequently top performers in their field, they inherently must act in a manner that is different from the majority of employees who would never consider molesting a student.
Good policies, practices and close attention to how personnel follow them can help more quickly identify them, particularly if administrators and staff are familiar with and practice utilizing the research proven concepts of pattern matching and recognition. Pattern matching and recognition involves an evidence-based approach where staff in any setting are trained and empowered to trust their instincts to help them notice patterns of behavior that do not fit the norm for the circumstances.