From guns and weapons on campuses to bullying to predatory educators, parents shouldn’t always assume that their kids are safe at school each day. And while most educators in this country are most likely caring, moral professionals, some gross offenders do make their way to the top of the school food chain, threatening the well-being and happiness of students who expect to attend lasses> normally each day. Check out our list of the eight most-disgraced school principals in the U.S.
- Principal foot fetish: Principals are supposed to lay down the law, not kiss students’ feet. But an Ohio principal of St. Anthony of Padua School had to resign after students and their parents complained to police of such fetish-y behavior. The principal — Robert Holloway — agreed to a bet in which he would have to pay students $15 each and kiss their bare feet 50 times if teachers lost the student-teacher volleyball game. And if for some reason you think that the occurrence could be seen as an inappropriate misunderstanding, you might change your mind after learning that 400 photos “depicting foot fetish behavior” were found on computers in Holloway’s office.
- Real-life Principal Rooney: Gothamist details a perfect comparison between a real-life Orange County, NY, principal and the weasely Principal Rooney fromFerris Bueller’s Day Off. Outraged that two students — a 12-year-old and 16-year-old — were skipping school, Principal Ernest Jackson laughed off a call from the brothers’ mother and actually went to the students’ home and “let himself in.” The guidance counselor who accompanied Principal Jackson figured it was time to go, but Jackson stayed. The boys called their mother, apparently telling her that their principal had walked in on them asleep in their underwear.
- Sketchy finances: Principal Jose Maldonado-Rivera of Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science and Engineering in Manhattan was essentially accused of extortion and carrying on an inappropriate relationship with a parent coordinator at his school. The principal made the coordinator — Monica Marin-Reyes — babysit his son without pay and even take him on a field trip to Puerto Rico, all for the trade of living in his apartment for free. The two ultimately hooked up, and Maldonado-Rivera — who had arranged a poorly organized and ultimately deadly field trip the year before to Long Island — was fired by the city.
- Molesting seminary principal: If you send your kid to a seminary school, you probably think she’s on the right track to a moral, protected future. But a principal at a Utah-area seminary took complete advantage of a student and her family when he was charged with forcible sodomy and object rape of a 16-year-old female student. At the principal’s trial two years later, the student spoke up, saying that she had believed they had a real relationship but now realized she had been his “puppet,” “toy” and “game.”
- Booze and strippers: There’s an argument that what you do on your own time is personal business, but people tend to get squeamish when elementary school principals show their shadier side. A Connecticut principal was quietly put on leave until the media dug up a police report about his drunken night at a strip club — and on the road. The principal had been drinking at a strip club called Centerfold’s and drove home when he was stopped by an officer and taken into custody until he could sober up. While the principal doesn’t seem to have been charged with a DUI, school staff were very reluctant to put him on leave — most likely preferring a resignation.
- Racy survey: Principals are supposed to promote collaboration, diplomacy and fair treatment of all students, but a principal in East Harlem, NY, preferred to categorize student behavior by race. Parents were shocked to find that teachers had been given surveys to break down student behavior and called for the resignation of Dr. Claudia Moore-Hamilton, a black teacher at a mostly Hispanic elementary and middle school. Moore-Hamilton apologized via letter to parents and teachers, merely saying that her approach to school research was “inflammatory.”
- Child rapist: Willow Cottage Arts and Academic Program Director Melissa Stephens sexually abused one of her alternative students for at least a year, police discovered. Stephens was also the founder of the Tualatin, OR, school, where her 10-11-year-old male student attended. Arrested on school grounds, Stephens was charged with first-degree rape, sodomy and sex abuse.
- Former politician becomes sexual abuser: An Alabama high school principal — who had previously served as a state legislator — was arrested on a sexual abuse charge in late 2010. James Thomas allegedly had an inappropriate and illegal relationship with a 17-year-old student the same year he was defeated in his re-election campaign for state political office.