POLITICS

Kevin Jennings Should Be Fired, 53 House Republicans Say

03/18/2010 05:12 am 05:12:02 | Updated May 25, 2011

Following the cue of Fox News personality Sean Hannity, fifty-three House Republicans have written President Barack Obama calling on him to fire "safe schools czar" Kevin Jennings.

In their letter, the Republicans repeat a thoroughly debunked claim that Jennings ignored the sexual abuse of a student while teaching high school.

Equally troubling is Mr. Jennings' self-described history of ignoring the sexual abuse of a child. In his book, One Teacher in Ten, Mr. Jennings recounts a 15-year old student confiding in him that he had a sexual relationship with a much older man. Mr. Jennings' only response was to ask if the underage boy used a condom. As a mandatory reporter, Mr. Jennings was required by law to report child abuse, including sex crimes. Mr. Jennings cannot serve as the "safe schools" czar when his record demonstrates a willingness to overlook the sexual abuse of a child.

Fox News has issued a correction for reporting this fake story (the child in question was 16 at the time, the legal age of consent in Massachusetts.) However, House Republicans continue to treat it as fact. The rest of the letter is filled with vague accusations seemingly based on a Family Research Council campaign, debunked here. The letter was put together by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who has repeatedly argued that protecting gay people from hate crimes will help pedophiles.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) responded that targeting Jennings was just a way to promote increasingly unpopular anti-gay views.

"This is just an effort to exploit anti-gay feeling -- they have this anti-gay view that they understand is becoming less and less popular with the public," Frank told The Hill on Thursday.

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