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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Teacher smacking student (advice)

   
Author Topic: Teacher smacking student (advice)
Stephan
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I am the union representative in my building. I signed up several years ago when we had a principal blatantly ignoring the contract, and no one was doing anything about it. I am not a jerk about it, I don't shove it in the principal's face at every minor infraction like some building rep's do, I pick and choose my battles.

Our school received a new principal last year, and things have been well for the most part. One little thing involving sick leave, but otherwise I haven't talked to him much. I even ignore some small things, if it seems to be better for the students.

Unfortunately the other part of being a union rep in my district is sitting in with teachers in disciplinary meetings. I can't do much, especially when the administrator is following the contractual policies.

Yesterday I was called in because a teacher was being accused of smacking a student's hand by a student and his father. This is not the first time this teacher has been accused of improper discipline in the classroom (first time being accused of it being physical though). The student claims he was smacked on his hand hard when reaching for a calculator that he wasn't supposed to, the teacher says she lightly tapped it. (I believe the student.)

After the apologies were made by her and the principal I walked out with the teacher and she said "he is lucky I didn't punch him and throw him out the window."

Now under different circumstances, I would have taken it as a joke. But I am wondering if I should go to the principal about the comment. Any advice from Hatrack? My wife says turn her in.

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theresa51282
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I am with your wife on this one. Clearly the other teacher learned nothing and has no remorse from her previous actions. You will be in a terrible position if you say nothing and there is another more serious incident. As adults, I believe we have a responsibility to children to err on the side of caution when protecting them from those in a position of authority. The only person who might be better off if you keep silent is the other teacher but in the long run letting the other teacher get away with doing increasingly inappropriate discipline will end up hurting them too.
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Jeff C.
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Report it. Obviously she has anger issues and it's only a matter of time before she really lets it slip. People like this let their anger grow and eventually it manifests physically. Next time she might not just hit a kid's hand. Next time she punch someone or push them. After all, she got away with it before, so why wouldn't she again?

Besides, in a public school, no teacher has the right to physically touch or assault a student in any way. You know she violated this regardless of what she says, and her angry threat proves that she is more than upset.

I say get rid of her.

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The Rabbit
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It isn't your choice whether or not to get rid of her. Your choice is whether or not to report this to the Principal. The Principal is the one who should decide on appropriate action.

If I were in the Principals position, I think I'd require her to get anger management counseling rather than firing, but that's not your choice.

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AchillesHeel
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I had alot of experiance with teachers who openly despised thier jobs and students, but making physical contact with a student and then remarking a willingness to do worse is a bridge too far when one is responsible for minors. You would be irresponsible in your duties if you kept it to yourself.
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theamazeeaz
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
It isn't your choice whether or not to get rid of her. Your choice is whether or not to report this to the Principal. The Principal is the one who should decide on appropriate action.

If I were in the Principal's position, I think I'd require her to get anger management counseling rather than firing, but that's not your choice.

The original post implies the Principal was preset. Would there be a relevant union authority?
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Rakeesh
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I would say, even viewed strictly through the lens of your position as union rep, it ought to be reported. Without knowing what the improper discipline the first time was, I can't even speculate to the incredibly limited extent Internet speculation offers, but I can say that corporal punishment, violence, etc., are pretty substantial lines to cross and that if it comes to light (again, looking at this strictly through the 'what's best for the union' way, and only one angle of that concern), it'll be pretty bad for everyone in the union. Not just this teacher.
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Samprimary
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I don't understand why people are up in arms about this person just saying "he is lucky I didn't punch him and throw him out the window." It's a totally harmless comment for someone who is not a teacher responsible for the safety and welfare of kids to make. So all you have to do is help make the comment harmless!
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Stephan
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
I don't understand why people are up in arms about this person just saying "he is lucky I didn't punch him and throw him out the window." It's a totally harmless comment for someone who is not a teacher responsible for the safety and welfare of kids to make. So all you have to do is help make the comment harmless!

Its the context that worried me. When the health teacher said something to me like that once, it was after a student verbally threatened her. Frankly that kid was lucky she maintained professionalism while in class.

This student was smacked while grabbing for a classroom calculator without permission. I'm leaning towards taking everyone's advice, and will say something.

[ June 02, 2011, 02:49 PM: Message edited by: Stephan ]

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Blayne Bradley
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I say let her do it and claim the student had an 'accident'. [Big Grin]
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Tresopax
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Assuming it wasn't said in an overly aggressive tone, I'd think that comment was a joke and was intended to be between colleagues to let off some frustration.

What grade was this?

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I'd think that comment was a joke and was intended to be between colleagues to let off some frustration.
Even meant as an ice-breaking joke, a person who'd make that comment as she walked out of a meeting in which she had just been disciplined for poor behavior probably needs some counseling, or at least professional advice.
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Darth_Mauve
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One of the worst problems that Union's are facing is this idea that they get in the way of removing bad teachers--even dangerous ones.

You are the Union Rep and you know better. The Union's role is to make sure that innocent teachers are not unfairly punished. This is neither unfair, nor an innocent teacher. Do the school and the union a favor and report it.

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Stone_Wolf_
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I'm not too familiar with the "union rep" position, but it seems as if you are there to make sure the teacher is treated fairly, or in other words, you are on their side. If that is the case, then the comment might have a different slant on it.

Have you considered just talking to the teacher and saying that that particular comment concerned you?

It might be the proper middle ground if you are supposed to be in their corner.

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Geraine
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The fact is the teacher came forward and admitted that she swatted his hand. It may have been meant to be a joke. I don't think the teacher meant to cause any harm to the student, and probably meant the window comment as a way to lighten the mood. It may not have been a good comment to make at the time, but you have to ask yourself if the teacher actually means to harm the student if it happens again. If you do not think the teacher is serious, I'd probably let it go.

I had a high school teacher that that carried a ruler around and would hit your desk if she thought were spacing out or not paying attention. She did it as a joke. One day I moved at the same time she hit my desk, and the ruler hit me straight on the knuckles. It hurt pretty badly but I knew it was not her intention to actually hit me.

I couldn't blame her. Not only was she in her late 70's, but she was great teacher and hilarious to boot. Even though it hurt like hell when it happened I had to laugh. She just walked away with a funny smirk on her face and said "Maybe next time you will pay attention! Next time it will be the back of your head!"

She would even take the same ruler and go out into the hallway during lunch to measure passing girls shorts to determine if they were long enough. Everyone loved her and knew she really cared about us, even if she acted like a complete hardass in class. You always knew she was joking. [Smile]

Best. Teacher. Ever.

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kmbboots
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Did you have Miss O'Hara for Seventh Grade Social Studies, too?
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Belle
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I'm kind of with Geraine. The teacher probably did not mean to cause the student much harm. If the principal and parent are satisfied with the proceedings as it stands, I don't see that bringing up an off-hand comment is all that necessary.

I mean, do you fear that she really will throw a student through a window? Or is it much more likely that it was a comment made after leaving a very stressful situation, and was her way of blowing off some steam?

Should a teacher hit a kid's hand if he reaches for a calculator? No, of course not. But if the teacher has acknowledged her wrongdoing and apologized and the kid and parents are satisfied and you don't believe she is really a danger then I would let this go.

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The Rabbit
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To what extent, could you have been viewed as a representative of the accused teacher in this meeting? If she viewed you as her representative and shared this with you under that assumption that you were her "council", then you might justifiably have some ethical obligation to keep the comment private. The problem as I see it is that your concern arise not just from her comment to you, which could be considered collegial whining, but also on your knowledge you have solely because you are the Union Rep.

You aren't a lawyer, so I doubt you are under any official obligation, but you may want to consider whether sharing teachers private comments with the principal compromises your ability to represent them or violates the trust they put in you. If the teacher is fired based on your report, you might have some legal liability. The more I consider it, the more I think you might want to talk to some one at the union (possibly their lawyer) before telling the Principal.

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PSI Teleport
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Context does matter. And the fact that she has a history of coming in physical contact with at least one student in an inappropriate way makes the context "possible repeat offender." Report it.
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Geraine
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Did you have Miss O'Hara for Seventh Grade Social Studies, too?

Hahaha no. It was a World Literature Class my Sophmore year of High School with Mrs. Carter.
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Blayne Bradley
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Also, no one likes snitches.
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Stephan
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
Assuming it wasn't said in an overly aggressive tone, I'd think that comment was a joke and was intended to be between colleagues to let off some frustration.

What grade was this?

6th grade
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Stephan
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
To what extent, could you have been viewed as a representative of the accused teacher in this meeting? If she viewed you as her representative and shared this with you under that assumption that you were her "council", then you might justifiably have some ethical obligation to keep the comment private. The problem as I see it is that your concern arise not just from her comment to you, which could be considered collegial whining, but also on your knowledge you have solely because you are the Union Rep.

You aren't a lawyer, so I doubt you are under any official
obligation, but you may want to consider whether sharing teachers private comments with the principal compromises your ability to represent them or violates the trust they put in you. If the teacher is fired based on your report, you might have some legal liability. The more I consider it, the more I think you might want to talk to some one at the union (possibly their lawyer) before telling the Principal.

That is a good idea. I will shoot an email to the regional representative.
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RivalOfTheRose
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As a fellow educator, get rid of that teacher clown. Cut the fat, cut the dead weight, whatever you want to call it. Defending teachers like this brings down the whole validity of the union. Prune the branches back a bit.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
I don't understand why people are up in arms about this person just saying "he is lucky I didn't punch him and throw him out the window." It's a totally harmless comment for someone who is not a teacher responsible for the safety and welfare of kids to make. So all you have to do is help make the comment harmless!

That was beautiful, Samp.
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Belle
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I'm not trying to defend a bad teacher and I definitely don't think that a student should ever be struck in any way by a teacher.

But the comment doesn't strike me as a threat. "He's lucky I didn't throw him out a window."

She didn't say "Next time I WILL throw him out of a window." She was referring to the incident that had already happened, and expressing her frustration about the incident in PAST tense. I don't consider that a threat. Is it an inappropriate comment? Probably. But a threat that should be reported? Eh, not in my book.

In fact, thinking back to things I may have said and shared with fellow teachers about the students I teach this past year, well, if you think this comment is bad then by all means don't sit with the teachers at my lunch table! Or with me for that matter.

Teachers vent about troublesome students. I teach kids who are drug dealers, whose parents are drug dealers and prostitutes. They are disrespectful, difficult to handle, and very challenging. Sometimes I say things similar to what this teacher said. I have never hit a student, or even yelled at one, or called one a name. It's just a way of expressing frustration and venting stress. Maybe I am projecting too much, and this teacher is definitely a danger to students. If that's the case, then Stephan should do what he feels best. Obviously he knows the teacher and the circumstances here better than any of us.

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Valentine014
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quote:
Originally posted by Belle:
I'm not trying to defend a bad teacher and I definitely don't think that a student should ever be struck in any way by a teacher.

But the comment doesn't strike me as a threat. "He's lucky I didn't throw him out a window."

She didn't say "Next time I WILL throw him out of a window." She was referring to the incident that had already happened, and expressing her frustration about the incident in PAST tense. I don't consider that a threat. Is it an inappropriate comment? Probably. But a threat that should be reported? Eh, not in my book.

In fact, thinking back to things I may have said and shared with fellow teachers about the students I teach this past year, well, if you think this comment is bad then by all means don't sit with the teachers at my lunch table! Or with me for that matter.

Teachers vent about troublesome students. I teach kids who are drug dealers, whose parents are drug dealers and prostitutes. They are disrespectful, difficult to handle, and very challenging. Sometimes I say things similar to what this teacher said. I have never hit a student, or even yelled at one, or called one a name. It's just a way of expressing frustration and venting stress. Maybe I am projecting too much, and this teacher is definitely a danger to students. If that's the case, then Stephan should do what he feels best. Obviously he knows the teacher and the circumstances here better than any of us.

I agree. I don't think the comment implied that they would harm another child if given the opportunity. It was spoken in frustration and was a vent.
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Seatarsprayan
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>Besides, in a public school, no teacher has the right to physically touch or assault a student in any way.

Student is reaching for a calculator and has been told that they cannot touch this calculator. Teacher smacks hand. This is assault? I have a child. I would not have a problem with a teacher smacking my child on the hand in a "don't touch that" kind of way.

That said, it's really STUPID to joke about throwing a student out the window following a disciplinary hearing. I'd want to suspend that teacher just for being stupid, since I don't think stupid people should be teaching kids. I doubt any children will get harmed, it was a joke I am sure, but a DUMB one.

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Papa Moose
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I know I'm a little late coming into this thread, but what is the school's policy regarding threats* made by students? If it's zero-tolerance for students, it should be zero-tolerance for faculty/staff.

*Not taking a personal stand on whether this is a threat/joke/vent/whatever, but it sounds like something that would be considered a threat by school administrators were it said by a student.

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Icarus
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I agree with Belle.
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mr_porteiro_head
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I wouldn't have a problem with a teacher smacking my kid's hand if they were taking something they knew they shouldn't.
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