MIAMI, Okla. — A former Miami Public School instructor federally charged with sexual wrongdoing involving one of his former students has left an employment trail of at least a dozen different schools since 2000.
Ronald Dale Sanders, 55, of Belton, Missouri is accused of traveling from his home to Welch on more than one occasion, to engage in illicit sexual conduct with an American Indian teen on tribal land.
There may be more stops.
Sanders graduated from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah with a teaching degree in 1992, according to Kansas Department of Education records. On average, Sanders stayed around two years at each school. His transient employment background leaves one troubling question unanswered.
Are there other student victims?
An estimated 10% of K–12 students will experience sexual misconduct by a school employee by the time they graduate from high school, according to a 2017 study by Magnolia Consulting, LLC. This project was supported by a National Institute of Justice grant.
One teacher offender can have as many as 73 victims, according to a 2010 Government Accountability Office report. Click here to read the 75-page report by Magnolia Consulting.
Due to confidentiality issues, school officials are not allowed to comment on why Sanders left 12 different schools.
In Oklahoma, state law requires that every new teacher and newly hired school employee pass a national criminal history check. However, the state does not have a “Do Not Hire Registry” or a similar database that tracks teachers under investigation, said Dan Isett, State Department of Education spokesman.
“There is no formal database, but we are working on building the department’s legal system of who we are tracking,” Isett said in an email.
An Oklahoma law that went into effect on July 1, 2015, required schools to report if a teacher is fired due to criminal activities. The State Board of Education has always licensed state teachers, but there was no provision for local school officials to inform the state board about criminal misconduct involving educators.
The bill’s author, former Sen. John Sparks (D-Norman) publically said prior to when the new law went into effect, “Schools will now be required to notify the state board when a teacher is fired due to criminal activities, including reports of sex offenses, embezzlement and other activities which constitute a crime.”
PASSING THE TRASH
“Passing the trash” refers to the practice of when school districts pass an instructor under investigation for sexual wrongdoing with a student to another school district, said Terri Miller, Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation president.
S.E.S.A.M.E., is a Las Vegas-based group, geared toward the prevention of sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment of students by teachers and other school staff.
Miller said she has been fighting the issue of teachers preying on students since 1983.
“The practice is as old as the one-room schoolhouse,” Miller said. “Sometimes they (the school district) will give the instructor under investigation a glowing reference letter.”
Miller said 95 percent of the schools with an instructor under investigation will handle the investigation in-house and not report the accused to law enforcement.
“(Teachers) Unions will quietly swoop in and negotiate a separation agreement with the instructor allowing them to resign leaving no blight on their employment records,” Miller said.
Fingerprint background checks often give a false sense of security. A fingerprint background check will confirm if a teacher or coach or other school employee has been charged, Miller said.
Background checks often don’t provide any clues of such potential behavior or tell the whole story, she said.
Sanders’ Employment Record
|School District||School Year||Student Population|
|Hickman Mills Middle School||2023||5,600|
|Miami School District||2021-2022||2,194|
|Wyandotte School District||2020-2021||762|
|Carl Junction Satellite School||2013-2017||3,401|
|Joplin High School||2003-2005||7,700|
|Texarkana, Texas School District||2002-2003||Stats Not Available|
|Farmington, New Mexico School District||2000-2002||Stats Not Available|
The Kansas Department of Education, the Oklahoma Department of Education and Chetopa school officials reported no disciplinary actions were taken against Sanders.
Hickman Mills Middle School, Communications Director Justin Robinson said Sanders was no longer with the Kansas City school.
While employed at the Miami School District, Sanders was certified to teach:
- Drivers/Safety Education Grades 5-12
- Elementary Education Grades 1-8
- Physical Education PreK-12
- Social Studies Grades 6-8
David Frazier, Miami Schools Director of Communications could not confirm whether Sanders was dismissed or if the school failed to offer or extend an employment contract at the end of the 2022 school year.
“To my knowledge, there are no other victims,” Frazier said referring to Miami School District students.
Leslie Bissell, Children’s Advocacy Center of Ottawa County executive director said no other victims related to Sanders’ federal charges have come forward.
Parents and guardians are encouraged to contact Bissell at (918) 540-1621 if they suspect any child is a victim of abuse.
- Lawrence Fourkiller, a former Stilwell Public Schools elementary teacher, was federally charged this year with three counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child in Indian Country, and two counts of abusive sexual contact in Indian Country. Fourkiller became a licensed minister in 2015, according to Adair County court records. He is scheduled for trial on March 4 in the U.S. District Court in Muskogee.
- John Q. Horner III, a former Salina middle-school teacher who had taught for 30 years pleaded guilty in August and was sentenced to 14 days in jail and received a seven-year suspended sentence.
- Aaron Koehn, a former Mayes County Christian schoolteacher pleaded guilty in 2021 to four counts of lewd molestation and was sentenced to three years. He only served two years in prison and is out on probation, court records show.
- In 2021, Amanda Ruth Schweitzer, a former Joplin middle school teacher was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison without parole for enticing one of her students to engage in illicit sex.
- In 2019, Stephanie Cowan, a Pryor junior high science teacher and a foster parent, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree rape in Mayes County District Court and was sentenced to eight years in prison.
- Ronald Manners, a former Vinita elementary teacher, was sentenced in 2018 to 25 years in prison after being convicted of sexually abusing an 8-year-old student.
- Thomas Alan Fenderson, a former Commerce Public School coach was sentenced in 2018 to one year in prison on three counts of second-degree rape.
- Former Columbus Elementary School principal, Ray Golden, was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2019 on charges of attempted indecent solicitation of a child. This was his second offense, in 2010 he was charged with felony indecent solicitation of a child between the ages of 14 and 16. The charge was dismissed. Golden died in prison.
- Cory Henton, a former Jay High School basketball coach was sentenced in 2016 to 15 years after pleading guilty to 16 counts of lewd molestation, rape by instrumentation, second-degree rape and other charges.
- In 2016, Chanute High School teacher, David Cadwallader, was charged with unlawful sexual relations with a student. A year later, the charge was dismissed and Cadwallader was reinstated at the Chanute School District.
- In 2016, Larry “Scott” Madden, a former Baxter Springs coach was sentenced to eight years in prison for having sex with a 15-year-old girl and getting her pregnant. He currently works for Casey’s General Store at 1201 Briarbrook Dr., Carl Junction.
- Sean Lee Catron, a former Stilwell High School teacher was charged in 2008 with three counts of second-degree rape and one count of sexual battery. The case was dismissed after the victims told the courts they didn’t want Catron prosecuted.
- William Allen Stroud, a former Jay bus driver was sentenced in 2005 to 15 years after pleading guilty to one count of lewd molestation and one count of second-degree rape.
You can search the National Sex Offender registry to see where registered sex offenders live or work in your city or town. However, experts warn that these lists are only effective if sex offenders remain in compliance. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by thinking the only sex offenders are those you see on your map.