Traverse City Record-Eagle

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February 2, 2014

Abuse prompts changes

TRAVERSE CITY — A private tutor accused of having sexual contact with a Traverse City West High School student is the third chapter in a series of recent sex abuse accusations levied against adults who worked inside Traverse City Area Public Schools buildings.

The tutor, Jayme Jay Kratky, awaits trial as TCAPS officials implement changes to prevent further student sex abuse, incidents that Superintendent Stephen Cousins said “tear at the very fabric of education.”

Police arrested Kratky in December after a 16-year-old female student who hired him for private voice lessons — including lessons held at West High School — told authorities he initiated a sexual encounter with her during a lesson at his home last summer.

Cousins said TCAPS is doing everything it can to protect students, but people who harm children are skilled at making sure other adults don’t know what’s going on.

“That’s our challenge, Cousins said. “How do you weed that out?”

Terri Miller, president of the nonprofit group Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct & Exploitation, said even one instance of sexual abuse is too many for any school district.

“They’ve got a serious problem if they’ve had three in four years,” she said of TCAPS. “If they’ve had that many, then they really need to start taking some action.”

TCAPS officials adopted new staff training, strengthened policies and dolled out discipline after former TCAPS teacher Lisa Placek and ex-custodian Marc Morris were convicted of sex crimes in 2012.

But TCAPS is back in unwanted territory again with another student sex abuse case.

Nepotism rules violated

Marc Morris started a sexual relationship with a female student, then 13 years old, when he worked at East Middle School in 2010.

TCAPS hired Morris, son of longtime school board President Gerald Morris, as a permanent district employee in 2008 while his father maintained a school board perch, despite a district policy that prohibited the hiring of school board members’ children to permanent staff positions.

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