Coming Clean on a Child’s Death

Type: Article
Topics: Ethics, School Administrator Magazine

October 02, 2023

Ethical Educator
Scenario: Illustration of man peeking out of closet with sign that says

A few years ago, the son of an assistant superintendent died from an accidental overdose when he took a fentanyl-laced pill. Upon receiving the autopsy report, the administrator’s ex-wife wanted to keep the cause of his death a secret. Jointly, they lied and said his death was due to a bad heart. Having now seen the many reports of teenagers dying from fentanyl, the administrator believes educators are morally obligated to speak out, even if belatedly, because it may save another family from tragedy. Ashamed it has taken this long, he wonders if he can ethically go public with the real cause of his son’s death when the mother is against it.

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The Ethical Educator panel consists of 

  • Sheldon H. Berman, author of Implementing Social-Emotional Learning: Insights from School Districts’ Successes and Setbacks.
  • Roark Horn, the Pomerantz endowed professor in educational excellence, University of Northern Iowa;
  • Baron Davis, senior adviser, Digital Promise, Columbia, S.C.; and 
  • Maria G. Ott, Irving R. and Virginia A. Melbo chair in education administration, University of Southern California.

Each month, School Administrator draws on actual circumstances to raise an ethical decision-making dilemma in K-12 education. Our distinguished panelists provide their own resolutions to each dilemma.

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