Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bad Teacher

The 2011 movie Bad Teacher was about an immoral, gold digging Chicago-area middle school teacher at the fictional John Adams Middle School who curses at her students, drinks heavily, smokes marijuana, and only shows movies while she sleeps through class. However, all of that does not compare to the story I read the other day about a South Carolina teacher.

The teacher is alleged to have bullied the student starting in early April. The student's mother alleges that the teacher repeatedly belittled her son in front of his peers, calling him “gay,” “gay boy,” and other names. The teacher repeatedly told the student's classmates that the student was in a homosexual relationship with another classmate, the suit states.

The mother alleges that the teacher encouraged and asked other students to pick on her son during class. She alleges that her son was made to feel that he could not report the bullying to school administration. The student was also made to feel he could not appeal to any of his classmates because of the resulting alienation and isolation that the situation created.

The student's mother filed a lawsuit on her son's behalf against the Charleston County School District alleging that a high school teacher bullied a male student by repeatedly telling the class that the student was gay. The unidentified student, referred to in documents as John Doe, was a student at West Ashley High School, according to the complaint.

On the West Ashley High School web site, the teacher identified in the suit is listed as a member of the math faculty.  The suit against the school district says that the emotional stress created by the teacher's conduct caused the student to become physically ill. The student attempted to commit suicide by hanging himself as a result of the bullying, according to the complaint.  The student has allegedly suffered severe emotional and psychological damages and has been forced to withdraw from school. He is being home-schooled. He is also receiving mental health counseling, according to the suit.

A spokesman for the school district said he could not comment on pending litigation.  The suit alleges that the school district failed to properly hire, train and/or supervise the teacher.  According to the complaint, the school district's negligence entitles the defendant to an award of past, present and future damages sufficient to properly compensate him for the pain and suffering, the mental anguish, the permanency of his injury, the loss of enjoyment of life, the alienation of his lifestyle and his past and future medical bills.

If the allegations are true, they are beyond disturbing.  I've known of parents to complain that a teacher was "picking" on their child and treating them unfairly, and it is usually groundless because the student either perceived he was being singled out or because the student was covering for his own misdeeds.  I've had allegations of singling out a student before, but the complaint is generally because I told the child to behave and the students reaction was, "But everyone else was doing it."  However, the allegations against this teacher goes far beyond anything I have seen before.

As a teacher (and if you've been reading my blog for a while) you know, that I have no tolerance for bullying of any kind.  My former headmaster actually encouraged bullying saying that "it helped students conform."  Our current headmaster has a zero tolerance for bullying, which is a relief.  His policy is immediate expulsion, as it should be.  This South Carolina case seems even worse to me because it is the teacher, and it seems to have been taking to extremes because, most likely, the student did not "conform."  A student with bad behavior is one thing, but one who may be socially awkward or "non-conforming" in some way should never be singled out.  We are all unique, and it's one of the great characteristics of humanity.  We should not be punished for our uniqueness.

Experts have linked school bullying to an increased risk for mental health problems, substance abuse and suicide. Students who are victims of bullying are also at risk for poor academic achievement on standardized tests. They are more likely to feel isolated, to participate less in school activities and to miss, skip or drop out of school, according to, a website that provides information on the issue from various government agencies.  Lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) youth and those perceived as LGBT are at an increased risk of being bullied, the website says.

If the bullying by the teacher has reached such a level that the student was withdrawn from the school, had to seek counseling, and for a lawsuit to be filed, then I suspect there is a great deal of evidence to supports the student's and his mother's claims.  I. This case, I feel, that the appropriate response from the school district should be suspension of the teacher until an internal investigation is concluded.  If the allegations are true, and for some reason (i.e. personal intuition) I suspect they are true, then the teacher should be fired and his teaching credentials revoked.  

I hope and pray that the allegations are false, because it is inconceivable to me that a teacher would do this to a student.  Teachers are protectors of our students.  Teachers are there to provide an education.  Teachers are their to encourage students.  What this teacher is alleged to have done is none of these.  I may not like some of my students, but it is because of their apathy and misbehavior, nothing else.


JiEL said...

I totally agree with you, being a retired teacher,I know how students can be so «rude» one to another.
I can say mostly girls but also boys...

But, a teacher doing what you explained, that's not acceptable and I also think that the school board should have suspended that bad teacher.

To give you some hope, here in Province of Québec, there is NO excuse for such behaviors.

More, we have laws and even an association against any kind of bullying (manly to gay people called GRIS Montreal that goes to many schools to explain all the issues of bullying.

Another association is driven by a well known gay actor, Jasmin Roy, that was victimized in his teenage time and wrote a wonderful book about his bad experiences in high school and about all the consequences on him afterward.
He also goes in schools to meet children and exchange about the issue of being different.

As a gay teacher (we were many only in my own high school) I was protected by the school board liberty chart and by the Canadian law and liberty chart...

We have made alot of road for many years in our country to make ALL people live freely no matter their religion of sexuality etc...

Hope you will achieve this in many of USA states that are still not accepting differences in people.
I went to South Carolina and many other states and I saw those issues and felt them too..
My best friends lives in Delaware (Rehoboth Beach) and I like to visit them because that place is really gay friendly and gay people are so well accepted.
Almost as much as here, in Montréal..

Friendly yours.

The head of

silvereagle said...

It will be interesting to follow this. I can not fathom all of the acts as alleged in the suit having taken place over an extended period of time without some notice of them having been made to the school authorities and no corrective action having been made. It is easy to make the allegations but the proof of them may not be as easy...The witnesses to the actual acts will be the students. Let us see what their testimony will be. And if they were parties to the vicious activity, they may also be responsible in some manner.

Amanda said...

As a parent of a two boys (one in high school) this story makes me angry, sad, and just plain sick to my stomach. If it's true then I hope justice is truly served. My heart goes out to the student and parents. No one should be bullied.