Author, blogger and buddy Michael Z. Williamson has just been through some very awkward times over hosting a foreign student. I've known Mike for years, and I'd trust him with my life (or my wife's life, for that matter), so I take his perspective on this very seriously.
We first became aware of International Student Exchange when the school sent out an email blast that two exchange students had to be moved due to an emergency with the host family, could anyone help? The idea was to keep them in the same district. These were high school students.
We volunteered to take one, and had to submit an application for approval, for background checks, with photos of the house inside and out, bios, the works.
While waiting for this, I found out I had a mutual acquaintance with the host family, who said that the male householder had been accused of a sexual impropriety (he did not specify), but everyone knew the boy "liked to make up stories."
I was immediately concerned because that can be true, and could be a problem again if he moved into our house, but it's also the first accusation an actual pedophile makes about the victim.
We clarified that the student we'd be hosting was the other one, and were introduced. We were approved by local rep Melissa Plunkett, and a move in date was set.
On the move in date, the investigation was concluded, and his move was canceled. He went back to his host family--Melissa Plunkett.
That's right, the spouse of the accused pedophile was kept in the supervisory position that enabled her to choose their substitute family. Does anyone else see a problem with that? Because I know my training for the Boy Scouts, and the rules for the Salvation Army, and a dozen other groups, most certainly do not allow the accused to have ANY say in contact issues until it's resolved.
Also, this issue was resolved in two weeks. So either no official report was actually filed, which was wrong, or a very, very quick "investigation" was done, which is questionable.
ISE apparently doesn't take complaints of child sexual assault very seriously.
The day that student was supposed to move in, he moved back in with the Plunkett family.
I note that the other young man, who filed the complaint, was not sent back to his home country, so apparently his complaint was not deemed to be maliciously false, just a misunderstanding of some kind. I'm not sure how one misunderstands something like that, but I'm not up on the details of sexual impropriety with teenage boys.
Our primary local contact then said, since we'd already done the background check, home inspection, etc, were we interested in hosting for the spring semester?
We agreed, were matched with options, and we and a family agreed on a young man to host. He arrived shortly after Christmas, we moved him into his own room with his own bathroom and facilities, and started showing him around, taking him to events, helping him comprehend American schools. I like to think we're an ideal family for that. I'm an immigrant myself, from the UK and Canada. Jessica was Reservation born, and relocated from Arizona to the Dakotas to Florida to Texas while young. We both travel extensively and are well educated.
Everything seemed optimal for about six weeks, until another rep entirely showed up for a "routine" second home inspection. This exchange then ensued...
There's much more at the link. Disturbing, yet recommended reading.
I found Mike's account very worrying. I'm not suggesting anything illegal occurred, because I wasn't there and don't know all the details; but if one reads between the lives, there appears to have been at least inappropriate meddling in the situation. It's trite to say that "There's no smoke without fire", but there's enough smoke in this situation to suggest that ISE (or, at least, their representatives who dealt with Mike and his family) were, at best, less than forthcoming. If I were still active as a prison chaplain, you may be sure I'd be referring this situation to Federal authorities whom I know would take the matter further - and Mike would not be the person at whom I pointed them. I know him too well to be in any doubt about his honesty and ethical behavior.
I can only suggest that if you have ambitions to host a foreign student, you read Mike's account in full, and decide for yourself whether it's a good idea to proceed - at least as far as ISE is concerned.