A Full Accounting
Review of Ex-Administrator Warrants Full, Public Report

Herald Tribune [Manatee FL]
February 6, 2005

When Manatee County school officials complete their review of allegations against longtime educator Joseph Gilpin, they need to publicly detail the events leading to his departure and any resulting changes in school district policies and practices.

Gilpin, a 34-year employee of the district, resigned as assistant principal at Haile Middle School last week after officials learned of accusations that he sexually molested two boys while he was studying to become a priest in the Northeast in the 1960s.

One of the complaints was part of an $85 million settlement reached by the Archdiocese of Boston with numerous individuals who reported being abused by priests. A second man has filed a complaint with the Roman Catholic Church in Maine, alleging Gilpin molested him from 1968 to 1970.

Although Manatee officials now appear to be on the right track with their review, numerous reports have emerged in recent days that warrant a formal report explaining certain details:

The man involved in the Boston settlement says he alerted the Manatee Sheriff's Office of the allegations against Gilpin in 2003, but officials say there's no record of the call or a fax the man says he sent.

Three Haile students contend they weren't taken seriously by the Sheriff's Office when they alleged Gilpin made lewd and inappropriate remarks to them last fall. Top school district officials say they weren't informed of the complaints.

State education officials say they should have been notified of last fall's allegations, as well as an earlier incident in which Gilpin admitted putting his hands in the pockets of two girls while questioning them about smoking.

Superintendent Roger Dearing, who hired a private investigator to look into the allegations, said yesterday that he will meet with principals and other district officials to discuss making policy changes and shoring up communications within the district. Officials also will review the work histories of all administrators, he said.

In addition, Dearing said he wants to make sure law enforcement agencies notify the district whenever there is an investigation involving a student and school employee, regardless of the outcome.

Gilpin, it's important to remember, has not been charged with or convicted of a crime, and the Boston settlement included no admission of guilt by him. But his resignation isn't the end of the matter. The district needs to continue its review and provide a full accounting of what's transpired and what will happen next.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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