Dear Editor: After reading a recent article by reporter Michelle Kim about the charges filed against Alcovy High teacher Derrick Roberts, I have a few comments. I must first state that Derrick Roberts is a personal friend of mine. With that said, I will try and remain unbiased as much as possible.
First, the sub-title of the article suggests an indictment of both teachers for both alleged actions against the student. If I am not mistaken, one teacher allegedly put soap in the student's mouth and the other teacher, in a separate event, put tape on the student's mouth. The sub-title suggests a collaborative effort to harm the child which has not been proven.
Secondly, and most importantly, the reporter provided a personal account (without any documentation of truth) from a mother about a completely unrelated event that further cast a negative light on Derrick. To be fair and balanced, the article could have included a positive character witness by one of the hundred or so parents whose son or daughter has been taught by Derrick. I think responsible, balanced reporting should have led Ms. Kim to search for someone with a positive story about Derrick. I think it is wrong to slant the article as if the accusation had already been proven, just to generate an attention-getting story. Everyone needs to be reminded that the charges have not been proven, yet news stories like this one pretty much destroys the careers and reputations of the teachers involved in advance of all the facts being made public at a trial.
Covington is still a small town where news like this really affects those involved. As often mentioned in Nat Harwell's editorials, everyone knows everyone and looks out for each other (Nat's wife was one of my teachers). This incident alone is going to be hard enough for Derrick to get past without the impact of biased media reports. I think it would be very responsible of the Covington News to have a follow-up article with more balanced reporting. That would be more fair to all those involved and a better service to our community.
Sean E. McSwain