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Is there a national ethics board to submit complaints of unethical behavior of scout leaders and council members?


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A couple of years ago, a scout in our troop who was aging out submitted an eagle scout proposal that had some issues.  While discussing them, he admitted that a parent prepared it and forged signatures on it (the parent admitted as well).  Unbeknownst to us, the scouts mom took it to a scout leader in a different troop that she had a "relationship" with.  He signed his name on it for the scoutmaster and committee chair (not sure if he signed his name or forged our leaders' names), submitted it, got it approved, and also signed off on the eagle scout project report and eagle scout form, and submitted it to council.  We were unaware that this occurred, until we saw some publicity that his mother had prepared.  When we contacted the other scout leader, he admitted doing it, and then bragged how there was nothing we could do.  We went to our council, who proceeded to brush it under the rug (there's nothing we can do, lets not make a big deal of this, etc.).  To this day, the other leader brags about it as a recruiting tactic (he practically guarantees eagle rank to parents).  Anyone on the national level we can take this to?  Any other suggestions on how to handle?

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Welcome to the forum, @UpstateNYCC
I can't answer your question. It's a sorry mess and proof to me that Eagle has been over sold.

The only option I can think of is talking to the scout and asking him what he thinks the right thing to do is. He might have matured enough to realize what was wrong. If so, he's learned a lot. If not, eagle won't bring him any good.

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No one at National will touch this...

And since you said it was a couple of years ago, no one else will touch it either.

Here is the sad truth:  it is EASY to lie, cheat, and steal your way to an Eagle rank badge (and certificate).  I see it happen on numerous occasions.  One of the biggest dirty secrets in Scouting is the sham of a merit badge program most summer camps put on. 

But, ultimately, what we hope for is that the values we seek to instill will take root and grow into a way of conducting your life.  For example, when a Scout asked me to be his Eagle Project Coach, I was looking over his record and asked him about his Hiking Merit Badge..."So, tell me about your 20 mile hike in one day...was it difficult?"  He replied he had not done a 20 mile hike, and that the counselor (a lawyer in our community, council board member, and fellow "Eagle Scout") had signed him off on it because of hikes they did over a few days on a trek.  I told him that, in that case, he had not earned his Hiking Merit Badge, and asked him what he thought he should do about it.  "I'm gonna hike 20 miles" was his reply.  When he had done it, he came back to me and said it was one of the biggest physical challenges he had in Scouting, and he felt proud of the accomplishment.  He is an adult now, and still very active with our Troop as an ASM.  I tell him this was actually a bigger ethical challenge than a physical one, and he passed it superbly.  This young man IS AN EAGLE SCOUT.

My suggestion is to let it go.  You will see it again.  Simply speak the truth when you do, and follow @MattR 's advice above.

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1 hour ago, UpstateNYCC said:

To this day, the other leader brags about it as a recruiting tactic (he practically guarantees eagle rank to parents).  Anyone on the national level we can take this to?  Any other suggestions on how to handle?

There's two issues:

1) If it happened at the time and you reported it to your council, that's really it. National's not going to intervene, certainly not after the fact.

2) If this is continuing to happen/ongoing, then point that out. They may not go back in time, but if it is STILL happening they'll try to stop if BEFORE it happens again.

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What's in the past is in the past. Nothing will change the status of the paper Eagle. We had a similar situation in my council, we found out too late so the young mans Eagle status stood. 

However, if there is proof the Scoutmaster is still doing this, the council can and should disqualify him from continuing. He is failing BSA's mission "to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law." If they SE chooses not to take action they are failing the mission as well. 

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On 9/26/2021 at 11:26 AM, CynicalScouter said:

There's two issues:

1) If it happened at the time and you reported it to your council, that's really it. National's not going to intervene, certainly not after the fact.

2) If this is continuing to happen/ongoing, then point that out. They may not go back in time, but if it is STILL happening they'll try to stop if BEFORE it happens again.

Thanks.  It has continued to happen, but our council is too focused on popcorn sales and not making waves.  Sometimes I wish council employees were required to be eagle scouts.......

On 9/27/2021 at 8:45 PM, David CO said:

Drop it.  

Thanks.  That's what I figured.  Really too bad they don't take too much of an interest in these things. 

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On 9/27/2021 at 12:28 PM, HelpfulTracks said:

What's in the past is in the past. Nothing will change the status of the paper Eagle. We had a similar situation in my council, we found out too late so the young mans Eagle status stood. 

However, if there is proof the Scoutmaster is still doing this, the council can and should disqualify him from continuing. He is failing BSA's mission "to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law." If they SE chooses not to take action they are failing the mission as well. 

Our council would rather take the easy road and look the other way.  Discussions with them result in statements like "Lets hope he doesn;'t repeat this" and (I am being honest with this one....) "We are too focused on popcorn sales to deal with this".  They admit the other SM did this, but don't want to rock the boat.

On 9/26/2021 at 10:31 AM, MattR said:

Welcome to the forum, @UpstateNYCC
I can't answer your question. It's a sorry mess and proof to me that Eagle has been over sold.

The only option I can think of is talking to the scout and asking him what he thinks the right thing to do is. He might have matured enough to realize what was wrong. If so, he's learned a lot. If not, eagle won't bring him any good.

Thanks for the response.  We have not seen the scout since.

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3 minutes ago, UpstateNYCC said:

Sometimes I wish council employees were required to be eagle scouts.......

It wouldn't surprise me if the eagle scout in your post becomes a council employee.

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Here's another view.  It's just a rank.  A youth award.  It's not a license to practice anything.  Like some many things in life, you get out what you put in.  If the scout got Eagle without the work, then the scout will always know the award is mostly hollow for them.  An example is that a huge majority of adults have high school diplomas.  Yet, many adults have difficulting reading or writing.  I'm a good example in many of my posts.  :)  Once the diploma is awarded, it's done.  We never take away high school diplomas.  Some kids are really proud of their high school career.  Others are not because they did not earn anything.  

On a practical side, why would a council want to ever take back such a rank?  It doesn't serve a purpose.  The youth is done.  Gone.  Maybe for severe felons.  Scouting is a youth serving organization.  Revoking would create damage and hate.  Scouting would be subverting it's own goals by re-opening such cases.  Let the past be the past.  Focus on doing right by your current scouts. 

On a personal side, we're not gate keepers trying to protect the Eagle rank.  Rank are our tools as an incentive for scouts to achieve.  If parents subvert our tools, then it's sad.  BUT, it's not our job fix past ills.  We just don't participate or support the bad practice.  BUT, once the harm is done, then our next role is thinking about how we can next help that youth.  What can we do?  

EXAMPLE:  Suppose a scout family subverted the life rank.  Now the scout wants to achieve Eagle.  I'd treat the past rank as done and gone.  It's been awarded.  I'd focus more on the current rank and seeing that the scout fulfills those requirements.  That's my tool to help the scout grow.  The SM (or his chosen/assigned delegate) does not need to sign off unearned requirements.  ... But the SM needs to do right by the scout too.  ... For example ... call out the scout early when the scout is not fulfilling expecations.  POR.  Project.  Behavior.  etc.  

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The scout leader who falsely reported a scout’s advancement is untrustworthy.

A scout is trustworthy.

Remove the leader, he’s not a scout.

You should have suspended the scout immediately upon hearing that he conspired with his mom to violate the 1st point of the Scout Law. You now live with the consequences of your inaction.

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18 hours ago, fred8033 said:

Here's another view.  It's just a rank.  A youth award.  It's not a license to practice anything.  Like some many things in life, you get out what you put in.  If the scout got Eagle without the work, then the scout will always know the award is mostly hollow for them.  An example is that a huge majority of adults have high school diplomas.  Yet, many adults have difficulting reading or writing.  I'm a good example in many of my posts.  :)  Once the diploma is awarded, it's done.  We never take away high school diplomas.  Some kids are really proud of their high school career.  Others are not because they did not earn anything.  

On a practical side, why would a council want to ever take back such a rank?  It doesn't serve a purpose.  The youth is done.  Gone.  Maybe for severe felons.  Scouting is a youth serving organization.  Revoking would create damage and hate.  Scouting would be subverting it's own goals by re-opening such cases.  Let the past be the past.  Focus on doing right by your current scouts. 

On a personal side, we're not gate keepers trying to protect the Eagle rank.  Rank are our tools as an incentive for scouts to achieve.  If parents subvert our tools, then it's sad.  BUT, it's not our job fix past ills.  We just don't participate or support the bad practice.  BUT, once the harm is done, then our next role is thinking about how we can next help that youth.  What can we do?  

EXAMPLE:  Suppose a scout family subverted the life rank.  Now the scout wants to achieve Eagle.  I'd treat the past rank as done and gone.  It's been awarded.  I'd focus more on the current rank and seeing that the scout fulfills those requirements.  That's my tool to help the scout grow.  The SM (or his chosen/assigned delegate) does not need to sign off unearned requirements.  ... But the SM needs to do right by the scout too.  ... For example ... call out the scout early when the scout is not fulfilling expecations.  POR.  Project.  Behavior.  etc.  

Appreciate the response.  Sorry if my post was not clear, I am not concerned about the scout (as mentioned, plenty of eagle ranks are given away).  My question is the adult leader that signed a form he was not authorized to sign.  Seems like that's someone we would not want in scouting.

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12 hours ago, qwazse said:

The scout leader who falsely reported a scout’s advancement is untrustworthy.

A scout is trustworthy.

Remove the leader, he’s not a scout.

You should have suspended the scout immediately upon hearing that he conspired with his mom to violate the 1st point of the Scout Law. You now live with the consequences of your inaction.

You are correct.  We did nothing, thinking that with (literally) two weeks before he aged out, there would be no way he could get eagle.  We did not anticipate another leader would forge sigs to have him get the rank to get some brownie points (or something) with the Mom.  Lesson learned.

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6 hours ago, UpstateNYCC said:

Appreciate the response.  Sorry if my post was not clear, I am not concerned about the scout (as mentioned, plenty of eagle ranks are given away).  My question is the adult leader that signed a form he was not authorized to sign.  Seems like that's someone we would not want in scouting.

Ahhh ... Good point.  My apologies.  This question started a while ago.  I should have re-read the original post.  My apologies. 

The best you can do is make the issue known to your own unit and the district.  Beyond that, there must be a reason for the other scout leader to brag.  You could also make the council advancement director aware. 

It does seem strange to have a SM from another unit sign Eagle requirements for a scout in your troop.  That is highly irregular.  

Not much you can do for the past.  Not much you can do about the other scout leader's registration.  BUT, you can let people know so that it does not happen again. 

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