By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – School board officials heard a retired police officer, and former children protective services worker and teacher, who volunteered with suspected child sexual predator Michael Beebe, at its Aug. 27 meeting.
School Board President Patrick Sutka said the board voted at its Aug. 13 special school board meeting, held at Roosevelt High School, to conduct an independent investigation into the actions of past parent volunteer Michael Beebe, who faces 15 counts of criminal sexual abuse against children. None of the current charges occurred on school property.
Sutka said a report will be delivered to the school board at a Sept. 3 special meeting. He said board members would not make any comments on the investigation until they have the final report.
Beebe, who had a criminal record for home invasion, was allowed to volunteer at Monroe Elementary School until 2017, possibly because his past crimes were not associated with child endangerment.
Retired Wyandotte police officer Scott Galeski, who serves as the school district’s truant officer, and who is a past Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer, said at the Aug. 27 meeting that he brings a different perspective to share with the board.
“I am here begging parents to be adults, and to present their concerns in an adult manner,” Galeski said. “Some people have been crucified out there on social media, and I know first-hand about that. I have been at the receiving end of that.
“They forget that these people are parents, they have kids that see things, so I implore parents with their concerns to do it in a way that we get resolution, and find a way to work things out.”
Galeski said if policies and procedures need to be changed, that should be worked on, but school officials should not be attacked by parents.
“You don’t cure a headache by cutting off the head,” Galeski said. “I was a lead investigator in crimes against children for most of my career with the Wyandotte Police Department, and I know first-hand that very nasty, dark world, and put a lot of those people away.”
Galeski said he personally and professionally stands by Monroe Elementary School Principal Vicki Wilson and Wyandotte School Supt. Catherine Cost.
“We have the best relationship with the Wyandotte Police Department in my lifetime, and with the 27th District Court, and the Guidance Center, and Beaumont Hospital,” Galeski said. “We are getting parents a chance to get help, when they go to court, and not just hitting them with fines and costs.
“We have got parent classes. We have community service for the kids, and the youth assistance program. We are doing a lot of innovative things.”
Galeski credited Cost with supporting the programs, and that parents, police and the schools are working together effectively for positive outcomes.
“I am a third-generation police officer, and I am working in your schools, and going into my fourth year,” Galeski said. “My main concern is the safety of your children, and I just want people to know that there are other ways to handle things.”
Charro Wongittilin of Ecorse, whose granddaughter attended Monroe Elementary School, said she worked for five months with Beebe, whom she said was well-liked by other parents.
“He pulled the wool over everybody’s eyes,” Wongittilin said. “I was a child protective investigator for the state of Florida. We investigated teachers, principals, pastors, ministers of music, adults all around, and I locked up so many people because they abused their children, sexual abuse, physical abuse. I worked from 1988 to 1996, and I just couldn’t take it any longer.
“The abuse of the kids lasts for a whole life time. They don’t forget it. They remember who abused them, and who didn’t protect them. Well, it is our job to protect them.”
Wongittilin said she then earned a master’s degree and became a teacher. She said they had policies in place that required volunteers to be fingerprinted and have criminal background checks by law enforcement personnel before they were allowed anywhere near children. She said money must be spent to perform thorough criminal background checks to protect children from potential abusers.
Wongittilin said she investigated more than 3,000 cases of abused children during her years with CPS.
“I know that (Beebe) has hurt more than three kids,” she said. “He probably did a hundred of them. That is the going rate for a child abuser. And you can’t fix them. I worked in Alaska, in Eagle River Prison for sex abusers, and they did all kinds of cures, and it never worked. Once an abuser, always an abuser. But they sure lie.”
She said abusers would look her right in the eye and say they would never hurt a child, but she is no longer surprised because she became aware of how much abuse occurs against children.
Wongittilin predicted that interviews with children who came in contact with Beebe when he volunteered at Monroe School will uncover more abuse victims.
She urged the school board to budget money for more rigorous background checks on volunteers to better protect the district’s students.
“It just makes me sick that this happened,” Wongitillin said. “This guy at Monroe Elementary just acted like he was a wonderful guy, and everybody believed him, but when they asked for a background check, I sat there, and I talked to this man, and he said ‘I got something in my past.’ He wouldn’t tell me. I said, ‘Go talk to the principal. Let her know what’s going on.’”
Wongittilin said that a week later, Beebe told her he had to talk to someone “downtown.” She said she doesn’t know what happened after that.
“The best place for him, forever, is in jail,” she said. “Don’t let that man out, because he will hurt again. Statistically they do a hundred kids.”
Wongittilin predicted that parents of older children who learn about the charges against Beebe will sue the school district. She urged rigorous background checks, regardless of cost, to help prevent future abuse in the Wyandotte school system.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected])