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  • Unethical Conduct on the Part of Scout Leaders

    I'm wondering if anyone may have experienced any level of unethical (but not illegal) conduct on the part of Scout Leaders (SM, ASM) or Troop Committee members within your unit? How was this addressed?

  • #2
    We removed one of our leaders as a Merit Badge Counselor (working with the Council) after a combination of incompetence and inappropriate behavior.

    Only ethics issues I have dealt with was a treasurer who had $3k from a pack account after he left. It took us 3 years to get it back.


    • #3
      I guess it depends on whose viewpoint you are looking at, as if not illegal, the person in question may think there is nothing wrong with what they have done..

      The one I guess all were (finally) in agreement with.. Was the SM who the council finally removed.. He had his group within the troop of his preferred scouts and made up hurdles that only they got the opportunity to jump through in order to go on special trips.. Like to go on certain backpacking trips you had to take the backpacking MB with the SM only (no one else as MBC).. The SM declined to work with anyone he deemed unworthy of his time, therefore you couldn't ever go on certain trips.. For those he truly disliked he added extra hurdles not in the BSA advancement to earn eagle, refusing to sign off on the paperwork unless you did his requirements plus the BSA requirements.. He again set up rules around his requirements that allowed him to keep those he found unworthy from ever reaching success... Took a long time and many complaints before the Council looked into the matter though.

      We had another SM (different troop as we left the first one with the game playing SM) who just wouldn't follow youth protection guidelines.. No proof he ever did anything wrong, and don't think he really did.. But, he felt rules didn't apply to him, he was above it all.. So would set up one big tent and adults & youth would sleep together in it, and he would invite his buddies non-scout associated adults on campouts and other events, and put scouts in cars with them, although we had absolutely no information on who they were.. Committee couldn't get him to follow rules, he would roll his eyes and do what he wanted.. Council didn't do anything, they still hadn't looked into complaint of SM #1 so I just had a reputation as someone who saw shadows around every corner.. Our family simply moved on to troop #3..

      Our Troops Outdoor Coordinator started a Venture crew, without working with the Troop to have it work to everyones benefit, then tried to steal boys out of the troop for the Crew, by promising them girls, no uniforms, meetings only 2 times a month, and that she would get them to Eagle rank.. The troop almost collapsed, but rallied and we brought down the Venture crew instead... Pity, had she either worked with the troop in advance, or run her own separate program both could have survived peacefully. (This was in Troop #3)

      A few others, but those are the 3 majors in my scouting career...


      • Flyingfish
        Flyingfish commented
        Editing a comment
        OMG. It sounds like you and I were in the same two troops( #1&#2)!

    • #4

      We had a Male ASM who was active went camping with the troop every trip. Well while he was camping mom was cheating on him......Long story short. They separated mom wanted new boy friend to become a member of the troop. The COR and CC rejected his app because he is morally corrupt. I lost the scout and Dad/ASM over that. Mom had custody an pulled him from the troop.

      So what are you talking about????

      Impossible to offer advise without knowing.

      Could be smoking in front of the boys to very public affairs????????? Obviously one is dealt with differently than the other.


      • #5
        Gossip and back-biting were the worst of my woes. Went to the person(s) who were being talked about, set the record straight, and made it clear that I was "Not about to be bothered by the burrs up anyone's butt, including yours." Not entirely sure if what I said was ethical. But it bought me a few years of personal peace, and a shocked laugh from the current SM when I told him what I had said. (He knew right away to whom I said it.)

        Best way to maintain ethics is have somebody take a critical look (that includes positive as well as negative) over what you are doing.

        I have a couple of trustworthy adults who help review our units' financial stuff. And a couple of lawyers in our units help make sure any contracts we may make for high adventure trips are reasonable and enforceable.

        But let me be clear. Other folks still do a lot of things the way I don't like. I know for a fact that I do things in ways that other people don't like. None of that variation should be considered unethical. There are folks who "create drama" about such things to the point that they could sound like ethical dilemmas. Those are the folks for whom I reserve the above quote.

        Anything else, I have a quiet chat with the SE or his designee. Or the Institutional Head if their property was involved.


        • #6
          Whoa... some of these stories seem like the plot of a soap opera episode! Cheating scandals, above-the-law SMs, stealing money, crazy stuff.

          The rule violations and youth protection violations drive me crazy hearing about stuff like that. Especially now, coming off a year of some bad press about past abuses. We can do a heck of a lot to protect kids, but not unless everyone is following the rules. Such a waste to see leaders or entire troops go down just because someone didn't want to do it by the book, when "by the book" isn't hard to do anyway.
          Last edited by EmberMike; 01-17-2014, 02:42 PM.


          • #7


            • #8
              Now that smoking marijuana is legal in Colorado, let's just say I am glad I am not a unit leader in Colorado.


              • DigitalScout
                DigitalScout commented
                Editing a comment
                Alcohol is legal in Colorado. I fail to see how marijuana is any different. Neither are permitted in scouts.

            • #9
              I thought you still couldn't smoke in public. Still, BSA can definitely add to their rules on alcohol and smoking, I would think marijuana would more fall into the rules of alcohol then smoking as smoking is not in front of the scouts, and alcohol is not in front of the scouts or under the influence of..


              • #10
                Had a leader ready to sign off on all kids swim tests, when leader wasn't qualified.
                Had a leader pass out camperships to all parents and told them to fill them all out. (Trust me. No one needed them)
                Leader dismissed.


                • #11
                  Yes, I have. The resolution was for me to reluctantly leave the leadership. My son remains as a Bear Cub. He absolutely loves Scouts, and I will not remove him as long as the leaders continue to treat him well.

                  It's very awkward as his den leader is the CC who treated me so poorly. I continue to offer help with den activities (like arranging a visit from my deputy sheriff friend to the den), and I continue to be ignored as though I don't exist. It's sad.

                  I was asked to be the treasurer for my son's Cub Scout pack for the 2012-2013 school year. As a part of my job, I tried to give our financial figures to the PTA (our CO) for inclusion in the PTA's 990 tax filings.

                  I was particularly concerned as I knew the PTA had no treasurer at all at the time, and I was concerned about making sure the PTA was filing its taxes on time. The PTA treasurer had suddenly moved out of state, and several months went by before a replacement was found. There was no one in the chair to file the taxes, so naturally I wondered if it was being done.

                  I was voluntold to be the PTA treasurer, without being asked first, and refused. It was particularly unsettling that the principal was told I had accepted the job before *I* was told I had "accepted" the job.

                  Anyway, as a lifelong small businessperson, I take taxes very seriously. In doing my due diligence to make sure our Cub Scout income and expenses were included in the filing of the CO's 990, I found out that the CO had not included the pack's income or expenses in the 990 filings for the entire seven years the pack had been in existence.

                  No taxes filed or paid on over $100,000 in income to the pack over a seven year period. Also, the bank account did not have an EIN or an SSN, just some weird made up number.

                  I notified the pack leadership, and tried to get the taxes filed. I told them I was very concerned as I was a signer on the bank account and therefore personally liable for the unpaid taxes and fines. I was asked to shut up.

                  I talked to the PTA about it, and then got a call from the pack leaders who told me to shut up on orders from the Council.

                  The pack leaders insisted that the IRS didn't want to prosecute nice people helping kids, and I had no reason to be concerned. I knew from personal experience that this was self-serving bullshit.

                  I tried to explain to the pack leaders that I had been to this rodeo before. As a teenager, my parents got in trouble for tax evasion. I was grilled at age 19 by IRS enforcement who were looking for ways to hold me responsible for my parents' tax debt. I was told, in person, to my face, by the IRS enforcement agent that if I had ever at any point been a signer on my parents' business bank accounts, the IRS could hold me liable for the entire tax debt.

                  The pack leaders thought I should take the word of the BSA over the IRS. Sorry, but no. I showed the pack leaders the documentation from the IRS supporting my concerns. I was told that I was personally offending the pack leaders by even suggesting the BSA would ever do anything improper and that I was hurting the kids and the program by not being supportive of the BSA.

                  So, I went to my CPA on my own time and my own dime to again check my concerns. My CPA told me I was right and I needed to "get out of Dodge". He told me the PTA and the pack could be fined as much as $5,000 to $7,000 in failure to file penalties, for which I would be liable as well. His recommendation was that I send a certified letter to the PTA with all of our pack figures and ask them to file them along with the 990. He said at least it would show I had done my best. He also recommended I have my name removed as a signer from the pack bank account.

                  When I told the pack, they told me they had no one to replace me so I would have to wait to have my name taken off the account. I told them I was not willing to wait. The CC replaced me as a signer.

                  The same day the PTA received my letter with the income and expenses, the BSA Council for my area called me at home to chew me out. "What are you doing!" "You have to be more political!" "The PTA hates the BSA and you're giving them an excuse to shut down all the packs and troops!" Etc.

                  This is ridiculous. Like it or not, it is a fact that our pack did not file or pay taxes for seven years, nor did the CO on the pack's behalf. Like it or not, that's illegal. Like it or not, I was personally on the hook for the mess I didn't make.

                  I should never have been in this position in the first place. I had nothing to do with the seven years of unfiled taxes. I just found the mess, and refused to sweep it under the rug. I have never, ever, cheated on my own taxes, and I'm not going to cheat on the pack taxes it was my responsibility to file.

                  I have lost *so* much respect for the BSA and the men in charge of my pack. It really is BullShitters Anonymous to me now. My son loves it so much that I'm not sure what to do but let him stay as long as it's a good experience for him. I'm hoping he'll outgrow it soon and move on willingly without being aware of this mess. He loves camping out with his dad, and I don't want to spoil that for him. Our son has no idea about the drama.

                  It is just lowlife for a grown man to call a volunteer mom at home and yell at her for trying to do the job she was asked to do in a legal and responsible manner. It is not my responsibility to deal with the "politics" between the PTA and the BSA. It is their responsibility to get their own contract straight so that each party understands who is responsible for legal requirements like filing and paying taxes. A volunteer mom should never have to stand between the BSA and the PTA hearing each party say "no, they're supposed to do it!". I'm too busy for this!

                  I quit the BSA and will never volunteer for them again. I'm at AHG now with my daughter, and it's great. I actually feel appreciated there.

                  My take on the BSA as a sadder but wiser volunteer for them is that they have incredible hubris at the District level and up. Most of the rank and file volunteers are great, but the people at the District and up who do this as a job are highly unethical and abusive to the volunteers who actually do all the work. It's sad. The bronze statue to the former BSA president just floored me, but I wasn't surprised.

                  GA Mom


                  • Sentinel947
                    Sentinel947 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Basementdweller, your comment was unnecessary.

                    All these "Unethical Leader stories" absent of the opposing view, need to be taken with a grain of salt.

                  • Basementdweller
                    Basementdweller commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Ya old georgia, pulls out her paranoia about the IRS every time there is something negative about the old BSA.

                    Yes the American Heritage Girls are a WHITE CHRISTIAN RICH Girl organization. look on the map where the churches are that sponsor them.

                    Ya Georgia, if we where walking down a street toward each other, I guarantee that you would cross the street to get away from me.

                    The Plus, I still have all my teeth.

                  • JoeBob
                    JoeBob commented
                    Editing a comment

                    I'd suggest that if you ever met Mr. GeorgiaMom in real life, you might lose a few of your teeth.

                    If you're a Scout Leader, act like one; even on the internet.

                • #12
                  1. A Committee Chairman who conducted a Scout's Eagle project for him while the Scout went to a school band function, then signed off on everything. The Council never knew because the whole committee went along and thought it was fine.
                  2. A SM who wanted to sue a ASM to recover summer camp scholarship fees who, for distance and religeous reasons, moved himself and his 2 sons to another troop.


                  • Basementdweller
                    Basementdweller commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Ya, can't say that I like either of those.

                    2. That is why I don't like Troop Camperships. Troop and fundraising dollars are too hard to come by.

                • #13
                  Don't you just love a poster asking a very broad question and then never posting any follow up information.


                  • moosetracker
                    moosetracker commented
                    Editing a comment
                    True Basement, but not to get your dander up, because I mean it sincerely.. Thank you for the way you handled it this time.. It was perfect!..

                    Perhaps they have no real problem, but just wanted to hear some war stories.. Don't know, it was very open, but never hinted they were having a problem.

                    But, would be nice if follow up questions or comments showed the OP came back to read the responses that they got.

                • #14
                  You'll need to be more specific on the behavior. This question is very general in an area where opinions will vary on what is unethical.