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September 24, 2009

There Is Only One Thing Wrong With Kevin Jennings

I donít care that he is militantly atheist and has a history of making comments that Christians find blasphemous. That doesnít disqualify him for a position in government.

I donít care that he is militantly pro-gay. And I donít care if he has a history of drug addiction. Those are not problems for me with regard to his position with the Department of Education Ė and given that his post deals with issues of safety for gay students and ensuring drug-free schools, it may be that his experience in those regards are helpful.

But his failure to take action to protect a student from sexual exploitation makes him totally unacceptable for any position Ė even janitor Ė in the Department of Education.

Another controversy from Jennings' past concerns an account in his 1994 book, "One Teacher In 10," about how, as a teacher, he knew a high school sophomore named Brewster who was "involved" with an "older man":

"Out spilled a story about his involvement with an older man he had met in Boston. I listened, sympathized, and offered advice. He left my office with a smile on his face that I would see every time I saw him on the campus for the next two years, until he graduated."

The account led Diane Lenning, head of the National Education Association's Republican Educators Caucus, to criticize Jennings in 2004 for not alerting school and state authorities about the boy's situation, calling Jennings' failure to do so an "unethical practice."

Jennings threatened to sue Lenning for libel, saying she had no evidence that he knew the student in question was sexually active, or that he failed to report the situation.

But a professor at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, Warren Throckmorton, has produced an audio recording of a speech Jennings gave in 2000 at a GLSEN rally in Iowa, in which Jennings made it clear that he believed the student was sexually active:

I said, 'What were you doing in Boston on a school night, Brewster?' He got very quiet, and he finally looked at me and said, 'Well I met someone in the bus station bathroom and I went home with him.' High school sophomore, 15 years old' I looked at Brewster and said, 'You know, I hope you knew to use a condom.'" [Audio is available on the professor's Web site.]

The Washington Times reported in 2004 that "state authorities said Mr. Jennings filed no report in 1988."A spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department for Children and Families, the department to which Jennings -- as a Massachusetts teacher -- would have been legally obliged to report the situation, did not return calls from FOXNews.com.

Legally, Jennings was obligated to report such a situation to the authorities, given that it involves the sexual exploitation of a minor by an adult. And then there is the MORAL obligation to take action to protect the kid beyond advising that he use a condom. Those are preeminent SAFETY issues, whether the kid is gay or straight. That he failed so severely in his obligation to protect this young man from sexual exploitation Ė and that he has in the past threatened to sue those who criticized him for it Ė makes it clear that he is unfit for his job dealing with school safety or any other position related to education.

But given the history of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in tolerating the abuse of children in Chicago Public Schools, I doubt that Jennings will be let go in a manner befitting his offense Ė because it would also highlight the inappropriateness of Duncan for his job.





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