Using Sageville School scandal for learning opportunity - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Using Sageville School scandal for learning opportunity


The former principal of a Dubuque Community School District elementary school faces his preliminary and detention hearings Tuesday morning for the charge of knowingly receiving and attempting to receive child pornography.

Robert Burke was the principal of Sageville Elementary School from 2004 until Saturday, when the school board voted to terminate his contract.

The criminal complain filed against Burke says he admitted to putting a hidden video camera in the boys' bathroom at the school.

It may be a difficult conversation to have with children, but one Dubuque non-profit agency said it can be used as a learning opportunity.

Matt Zanger is a violence prevention educator at Riverview Center. That's a nonprofit agency that offers, among other services, resources and counseling in matters of sexual and domestic abuse.

Zanger said it's good for Sageville School parents to be honest with their children about what happened.

"I don't think it's something that we want to ignore or say to kids, 'Oh, that doesn't concern you.' I think that kids are very perceptive and very alert," Zanger said. "It is hard to know how to approach it when you don't know the whole story."

While any information provided should be honest and accurate, Zanger said, it's up to parents to decide exactly how much information their children can handle.

It's also an opportunity to discuss trust.

"That not all adults that they trust will break that trust, that sometimes we give trust and then we learn that we can't give it any longer," Zanger said.

Officials executed a search warrant at Burke's home Friday on Saint John Drive in Dubuque, where they found child pornography.

The criminal complaint said Burke claims he had not touched any children in a sexual manner and that officials don't have any information that would suggest he's lying.

After this weekend, kids weren't the only ones facing a shock.

"Certainly, when a person is in a position of trust and they break that trust, that can be harmful to adults as well as children," Zanger said.

Parents who want free resources and information on how to have this difficult conversation with their child can visit the Riverview Center's WEBSITE.

Burke is currently in custody in Cedar Rapids.

The Dubuque Community School District's human resources department said Burke's contract termination will follow standard Iowa school code. He'll have five days upon notification to request that an administrative law judge review the board's decision.

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