The Department of Education fired a substitute teacher who had reportedly turned to her fourth-grade students for dating advice.
Cassandre Fiering was filling in for a class of five fourth-graders at P.S. 189 on June 13.
“It was an all-day situation and I was in the room for seven hours without a lesson plan,” Fiering said of the school day. The 45-year-old teacher, who also acts in commercials and has had small roles in movies and on TV, said she decided to discuss relationships with students – her relationships.
At the time, she was dating two men. Although she later noted that “it was all theoretical,” she sought out her young class’s opinions on the two men.
Fiering reportedly acted out her scenarios with her students, in which she acted as the boyfriends and students took turns pretending to be her. She allegedly hugged one student, tapped another’s shoulder, and touched two students’ thighs.
The case was investigated by the office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation for New York City Schools. The investigation began when Fiering’s students told school officials that they had counseled Fiering on her romantic life.
The students added that Fiering had called them her “munchkins,” and had asked them to toilet paper one of the boyfriend’s houses.
Fiering has maintained that she did not touch any student inappropriately, and that she could not remember if she had hugged one of them.
“The kids were saying, ‘Oh, we’re your counselor,’” Fiering recalled of the day’s activities, which she insists were harmless and done in fun. “They were excited to have me listen to their advice.”
“They were saying all kinds of things, trying to help me because this guy was being a jerk to me,” Fiering added.
She added that the conversations was "G-rated," and that they had not been “talking about sex or anything.”
Fiering had only been working for the Department of Education for a few months – she started in March 2013 – at the time of the June 2013 incident. She noted, however, that she had worked as an educator for decades, during which she had never been accused of impropriety.
Although she admits that she crossed a line in bringing her personal life into the classroom, Fiering questions whether the poor judgment call merits her termination: she is currently appealing her firing.
If Fiering’s judgment in asking the class for such advice was skewed, the children's opinions certainly were not: according to investigators, the students told her to break up with the younger of the two boyfriends because he had not returned her phone calls.
She has since ended her relationship with both men.
Photo Source: Daily News