Robanske still banned from teaching in US

The
American educator at the centre of the firestorm now engulfing the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) remains banned from teaching in the US despite his suspension having ended some four years ago.

Carl Robankse’s education certificate was suspended for two years in 2016 by the Office of Professional Practices (OPP) in the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington after he was found guilty of “unprofessional conduct”.

Following allegations against him, Robanske admitted that he messaged a female middle school student after school hours and on weekends. The messages included some conversations with sexual innuendo.

A psychological assessment concluded that Robankse “appears to have little awareness of the inappropriateness of his behaviour”.

It was also concluded that, “Mr Robanske lacks insight into any of the unconscious, or conscious, motivations for his inappropriate behaviour. He claims to understand that it was inappropriate, stating that he would not engage in that type of behaviour in the future.

“[But] there is clear and convincing evidence that Mr Robanske has a behavioural problem that endangers the educational welfare or personal safety of students, teachers, or other colleagues within the educational setting.”

Robankse was told that he could have his education certificate reissued after the two years but he would have to meet several requirements to show that he would not be a danger to children.

These included the submission of a new application, including character and fitness supplement provided by OPP and having his fingerprints checked by both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Washington State Patrol.

“Reinstatement shall also be contingent upon Mr Robanske’s fingerprint background check returning with no criminal convictions occurring after date of [his suspension].

But late last week Catherine Slagle, director of the OPP, told the Jamaica Observer that Robanske had yet to apply to have his education certificate reinstated.

Slagle underscored that Robanske was required to complete certain things prior to having his teaching certificate reinstated.

“One of those requirements is to complete a psychological evaluation to determine if he is safe to be around children/students,” said Slagle.

“Also, the discipline taken against Mr Robanske’s educational certificate was reported to the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification Clearinghouse. This clearing house lists disciplinary actions taken against educational certificates in all 50 states as well as Canada and Guam and is accessible by educational agencies in those jurisdictions,” added Slagle.

She told the Sunday Observer that during the time of suspension Robanske was not allowed to hold an educational certificate or teach in the state of Washington.

However, because “he was not criminally charged or convicted of a crime, we do not have the authority to mandate he not have access to or be around minors,” Slagle said.

Robankse has been the subject of much media discussion since last Tuesday when the findings of a investigation by Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) were made public.

The OCA reported that despite the concerns surrounding his relationship with children, Robankse was allowed access to wards of the State at the transitional facility The Father’s House in St James, which was established and heavily funded by the charity Embracing Orphans, which he led.

The OCA further reported that even after 2018 when the CPFSA became aware of his inappropriate contact with a minor in 2018, Robankse was allowed full access to the girls at The Father’s House, some of whom were minors.

The CPSFA did not end the relationship with Robankse until after Nationwide News Network, in 2021, reported on the role of this controversial educator with some of the most vulnerable members of the Jamaican society.

At least three of the girls who were housed at The Father’s House told the OCA of lewd sexual comments which, they said, Robankse made to them.

The OCA recommended disciplinary action against the CEO of the CPFSA Rosalee Gage-Grey for what it described as her “gross breach of the duty of care to the wards of the State and the former wards who were housed in facilities run by it”.

Education Minister Fayval Williams, in tabling the OCA’s report in Parliament last Tuesday, called on Gage-Grey to step aside while a full investigation is conducted, but up to late last week there was no response to that call.

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