Maintaining Safe and Appropriate Learning Environments


Paris Blanco

By Paris Blanco

In light of a recent event involving a teacher who, according to the Long Beach Post, screenshared inappropriate content, an important question has arisen. How can we ensure the integrity of a teacher’s actions and what preventative measures can we take towards this? 

In the Long Beach Unified District, teachers go through a fairly lengthy process in order to receive employment at a school. After an applicant’s resume is reviewed, they are interviewed at a district level for possible employment. Then, contacts are made to the applicant’s references as a form of a background check. If suitable, the applicant will then be interviewed at a site level and possibly offered a job.

It is also notable that all new hires must have LBUSD fingerprint clearance from the California Department of Justice. This means, a fingerprint live scan done on the applicant must show no history of arrests or convictions. According to Assistant Superintendent of LBUSD Human Resource Services, David Zaid, “Those notifications [of arrests/convictions] come to us from the Department of Justice, the Los Angeles County Office of Education, or the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.” 

However, as seen in various incidents involving inappropriate actions from teachers, not solely at LBUSD, this preliminary and one time background check may not be enough. There can be many unforeseen incidents that fly over the heads of arrest/conviction checks and calls to previous employers. 

While peer-on-peer sexual assault is an equally concerning and a prominent issue, when educators are the perpetrators, it is difficult for affected students to reach proper redress. This is due to the fact that educators hold a position of trust, and often tower over students in terms of power. In a 2002 survey conducted by the American Association of University Women with 2064 students in 8th through 11th grade, stated that, “38% of the students were harassed by teachers or school employees.”

Therefore, it is important that extra measures are taken in order to ensure safe and comfortable school environments. 


This photo above depicts how various states keep records of sexual assaults in schools and how they address these assaults. 

First off, schools should foster an emphasis on teaching students how to recognize inappropriate behavior early on in their education. Currently, most schools do not begin in-depth health classes until around 7th grade. However, this causes children to be unsure of what to do when they are uncomfortable with an adult’s actions during their elementary school years. 

To combat this, classroom conversations surrounding what appropriate behavior from adults should look like and what to do in an uncomfortable situation should be held with elementary-age children. Parents should also be encouraged to discuss these topics with their own children. These conversations are most effective when the information presented is as concrete and straightforward as appropriate, in order to avoid confusing children. 

According to Dr. Jamie Howard, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, “I am less worried about scaring a child than about the child being unprepared if he or she must face an uncomfortable or even dangerous situation.”

Although educating children early-on can be effective, all the responsibility towards maintaining the integrity of an educator’s actions should not fall onto the student. Thus, education and conversations surrounding sexual harassment should be held with teachers and employees as well. 

At Millikan, trainings regarding sexual harassment are held annually and teachers are required to attend. 

Through in-depth training about sexual harassment, teachers will be made aware of behavior that is unacceptable and inappropiate. Educators also can be instructed on how to intercede as a bystander during these situations. This way, all adults at a school are given the skills to handle situations involving sexual harassment. 

All in all, creating safe and appropriate learning environments requires a balance between holding teachers accountable and educating students about sexual harassment.