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Vanguard School Sexual Assault Claim

If your child is hurt, injured or assaulted at a public school, chances are, somebody is going to be held accountable –public schools are scrutinized, documents are public, administrators are generally accountable for their actions and people don’t get off the hook easily if a report of abuse, injury or neglect is made.

If a child is injured at a private school for troubled teens, though? Well, repeated investigations show that there’s simply not as much oversight, nor is there the same kind of accountability that public schools face.

That’s what the parents of a young woman who attended the Vanguard School in Lake Wales learned in 2011, when their daughter claimed she was sexually assaulted by two fellow students in the woods after dark. The Vanguard School, a boarding school serving kids with conditions like dyslexia, Asperger’s and other social and learning disabilities, is a private, nonreligious school that isn’t regulated by the state –under Florida law, private schools aren’t regulated, licensed or accredited by the Department of Education and operate largely without hassle from authorities.

Although that doesn’t mean that authorities turn a blind eye to violence or criminal activity, it does mean that oversight can be so weak that student safety is jeopardized. Which is what some advocates say happened at the Vanguard School –because nobody oversees unlicensed schools, law enforcement doesn’t get involved in safety situations until after an incident occurs, which is what happened in the aforementioned Vanguard case. Though the victim in question reported being raped to school authorities, court documents say, the incident wasn’t immediately reported to the police until after school officials did their own investigation. And when police were called, they seemed to accept the school’s version of events over the student’s.

The student’s parents ended up suing the school, and in late 2013, a settlement was reached, with all parties placed under a gag order. Which means nobody will really know exactly what happened at Vanguard.

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Bill Johnson

About Bill Johnson

Production Manager and Weekend Host

Bill joined WMFE in September 2008. He started his radio career at WFCS at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain Connecticut where he hosted a weekly comedy/variety show and gospel and blues programs. Bill then spent 10 years at WNPR in Hartford, Connecticut, where he worked in radio operations and ... Read Full Bio »