An Arizona school board fired a veteran elementary school teacher Monday night, saying she acted inappropriately while trying to break up a bullying incident in her classroom.
Pam Aister had been a teacher in the Fountain Hills Unified School District for 25 years. She said she was only trying to protect a student who was being picked on by a group of five boys in her Four Peaks Elementary School classroom.
“I said (bullied student’s name) is in my room now, he's not alone any more, and if you're picking on him, you're picking on me," Aister told KTAR. “It's not five against one, it's five against two, and there will be no more taunting, teasing or racial names.”
During a hearing before the board Friday night, Aister described the nature of the racist taunts.
“He was called the n-word, ‘monkey,’ and ‘coon,’” Aister told the board, according to ABC-15.
Aister said the students nodded their heads and stopped their bullying, but she believes they later went home and complained to their parents that she had, in fact, bullied them.
According to a report from a district-appointed hearing officer, at least one parent complained to members of the school’s administration that Aister had acted inappropriately.
Aister allegedly told the group to “shut up” and said she heard that one of the boys doing the bullying had an “ugly face.”
Aister denies those claims but the board voted 4-1 to terminate her teaching position.
Board member Dr. C.T. Wright voted against termination, saying it was too harsh a punishment for a teacher who had served the district in good standing for 25 years.
“I am terribly disappointed,” Aister told CBS-5 after the vote. “I can't believe they would believe lies. I hate to go out on lies.”
But parents who supported the decision suggested Aister had a long history of being an overly harsh teacher.
"In this instance, these parents, everyone knowing what they know about her (Aister's) reputation and knowing there was actual proof and knowing there was more than one witness - felt that this was their opportunity to finally bring to light the way that she treats certain children," said Nicole Perkins, whose children attend the school but have not had Aister as a teacher.
Aister said she does not yet know if she will fight the decision or what her next step will be.
Photo Source: ABC-15