Bad Teacher

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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 stopbullying.gov, 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.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

2 responses to “Bad Teacher

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