Update: Union Says NJ Teacher May Be Fired Because She "Failed To Supervise" Students Found Naked In Bathroom (Video)
On Sunday, we told you about Kelly Mascio, the New Jersey teacher who could be fired because she walked in on two of her 5-year-old students naked in the bathroom together. Now, the teacher’s union is saying that the reason Mascio may be fired is because she failed to supervise her students.
The incident happened back in September, and Mascio reportedly found two 5-year-olds, a boy and a girl, naked in the bathroom together, claiming they were “having sex.” Mascio immediately reported it to the principal but was still suspended with pay. The school board is now deciding whether or not she should be fired, and while many are outraged that she would be let go for this, the teachers union is explaining their reasoning.
“Originally they said it was failure to supervise her students,” said Mullica Township Education Association President Barbara Rheault to the New York Daily News, adding that she believed Mascio, “acted in a professional manner and responsibly reported the incident.”
The school board had a closed meeting on Wednesday to discuss whether or not they should let Mascio go, and even though the public was not allowed to hear the discussion, 200 people showed up to support the teacher of 15 years. The school board has not yet said if they came to any conclusions.
“We question why the administration would forgo the disciplinary route available and taken one that is so severe,” said a spokesperson for the state Department of Education.
Still, Superintendent Brenda Harring-Maro refuses to publicly comment on the issue and said that it would be irresponsible of them to do so.
“The district takes its responsibilities very seriously regarding the health, safety and welfare of our children,” said Harring-Maro. “Simply stated, it would be unprofessional and irresponsible for anyone associated with the school district to speak about school district students or for others to seek to capitalize on that unprofessional and irresponsible behavior.” She also added that, “public reporting of this matter is neither complete nor accurate.”
Mascio has also been silent about this issue as her the future of her jobs remains in limbo.
Most will probably remember the incident at a Salt Lake City elementary school in which school administrators disposed of the lunches of students whose parents owed money to the school. When Opposing Views first reported on this story, many were outraged that the school chose to deal with the issue like that, and since then, the administration has been doing damage control.
Now, the United States Department of Agriculture has reportedly put in its two cents, asserting that school systems should not refuse their students lunch just because their parents have not paid their accounts.
“Under Secretary of Agriculture Kevin Concannon says in a letter to state school chiefs that schoolchildren should not be subjected to undue embarrassment and stigma when they have outstanding balances in their school lunch accounts,” reports NPR’s Howard Berkes. “That’s a response to the incident in Salt Lake City last month when school lunches were taken from children and tossed in the trash due to unpaid bills. Parents at the school complained they weren’t adequately notified. Concannon urged school districts to adopt clear procedures for payment and notification of overdue balances. The Salt Lake City school board is seeking an independent audit of the incident, and plans to spend nearly $50,000 for public relations help.”
Fallout from this situation still continues as Salt Lake City School District attempts to build itself back up. As Berkes reported, the district has reached out to a public relations firm, planning to spend $49,999 on help with its image.
"We spend money on what we think we need in order to improve the overall operation of the district and sometimes that means you have to spend on things that are not directly involved in the classroom,” said Heather Bennett, school board vice president. “Many districts in the state have multiple people in public information, and we’ve only got one.”
With the federal government now involved in this matter, many hope that schools will no longer throw away students' lunches due to unpaid accounts.
Former gym teacher Matthew LoMaglio is currently serving a four-year jail sentence for sexually assaulting a then 8-year-old boy back in 2006 and 2007, and now, reports are claiming that 22 of his fellow teachers wrote letters to a judge supporting their former colleague during his recent trial. This has outraged parents of students at the Rochester, New York school as well as parents all over, and some have started a petition demanding the names of the teachers who are supporting the sex offender.
“We believe that children in the Rochester City School District (RCSD) are in danger,” reads the petition. “The lack of cooperation stifles the investigation, impedes discovery of the abuser, and lengthens the amount of time a child is in danger, until authorities uncover the abuse and intervene. As responsible parents, family members, friends, community members and concerned citizens, it is our duty to demand full justice for the child that was sexually assaulted, and to do everything we can to protect other children from being sexually abused.”
According to reports, parents attempted to file a request under the Freedom of Information Act in an effort to get the names of the 22 teachers, but the judge denied their request, saying that it could only be made by government officials.
Angry parents are expressing their disgust at the supportive teachers in their comments on the petition.
“Any teacher supporting this guy is a scumbag and should not be working with children,” wrote one livid parent.
School officials are reportedly also trying to get their hands on the names of the teachers that wrote letters to the judge supporting the abuser.
“We can tell you with great certainty that the City School District did not authorize any employee to write a letter supporting Mr. LoMaglio,” said a school official to Fox News. “The letters are part of a sealed court record, but we are working through legal channels to obtain them and simultaneously conducting an internal investigation. If employees used work time or resources to write such letters, or pretended to speak on behalf of the District, we will take disciplinary action.”
In the meantime, the online petition has garnered hundreds of signatures and is being spread all over the Internet. LoMaglio is currently serving four years in prison for the sexual assault.
The mother of a student at Marshall Middle School in Texas has complained that on two occasions, when her daughter’s lunch account displayed insufficient funds, cafeteria workers dumped her food off her tray and into a garbage can.
The middle school student was then provided with a cold sandwich and milk instead.
“She has come home starving to death because she didn’t have enough money in her account,” Michelle Bass said in a phone interview on Friday. “It’s embarrassing for me as a parent.”
These occurrences seem to challenge what should be happening during the school’s lunch hour. According to Joanna Genuardi, child nutrition director of Beaumont ISD, the district Marshall Middle School is in, the district has a policy to feed al l students “regardless of the amount of money in their accounts.”
“We have many students whose only meal they get is at school,” Genuardi stated.
In another case reported from a Texas middle school, Jennifer Castilleja said that her 12-year-old son was denied breakfast because his account was 30 cents short. When Castilleja told the school she would come in pay, she was told she would have to pay before her child was allowed to receive the school breakfast.
“There were kids all around him,” Castilleja said, adding that he “may have been a little embarrassed and upset and, of course, hungry.”
In situations where a student picks out food, only to realize that they cannot pay for it afterwards, health code regulations forbid cafeteria workers from simply handing out that same food to another student; instead, it must be disposed of.
Distric 22 State Rep. Joe Deshotel has suggested that as a solution to this problem, cash registers be moved to the front of the line. Thus, each student’s account balance would be determined before he/she touched any food.
Others schools in other districts have different policies when it comes to students purchasing lunches.
Some schools allow students to charge lunch to their accounts several times, before their lunches are tossed away, and are instead replaced with milk and “a cold sandwich – sometimes cheese or peanut butter and jelly.”
Another school system operates on a no-charge policy: if students don’t have lunch money, they must throw away the food they stood in line for, and eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead.
Yet other schools have put teachers in charge of monitoring elementary school students’ accounts before lunchtime, thus helping students and workers alike determine which students will be receiving altnernate meals that day.
Superintendent Mark Porterie said that students of the Port Author ISD don’t have to worry about having sufficient lunch money, because every student receives free breakfast and lunch thanks to a national free lunch program.
While different school districts have different methods of regulating account balances and distributing meals, one fact remains solidly indisputable.
As Joe Deshotel put it, “Throwing away food doesn’t seem to solve the problem. It wastes food and embarrasses the kid.”
Photo Source: www.beaumontenterprise.com
The 2010 documentary ‘Waiting For Superman’ analyzed the American public school system, focusing on its failures in an attempt to foster a discussion about possible reform. One of the major issues highlighted in the film was the difficulties involved with firing a teacher that has already achieved tenure.
Although ‘Waiting For Superman’ has largely faded from public consciousness in the years since its release, a group of Southern California students are now fighting their own battle against tenure in the courts.
The students have gone to trial in order to call into question a variety of job protections currently afforded to teachers. According to the New York Times, California teachers can be granted permanent employment status after working for 18 months. The process of firing a teacher after he or she has achieved such status is lengthy and difficult.
The students are suing on the basis that the current employment laws reduce the effectiveness of teachers. The case also includes a civil rights component, claiming that poor and minority students are unfairly given lower-quality teachers.
The trial has already seen Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John E. Deasy called to the stand. Deasy testified his aversion to tenure rules.
“I absolutely do not believe it’s in the best interest of students whatsoever. The decision about who should be in front of students should be the most effective teacher. These statutes prohibit that from being a consideration at all. By virtue of that, it cannot be good for students,” Deasy said.
Teachers unions, on the other hand, staunchly oppose any change to the current job protection laws. Unions typically argue that teachers could be unfairly laid-off if a new system that ignores tenure laws is put into place.
According to the L.A. Times, California has some of the most generous laws regarding job protections for teachers. Still, this trial’s outcome could have broad implications in regards to public education reform across the country.
Yesterday, Opposing Views reported that Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City, Utah had come under fire after reportedly giving 40 students their lunches, immediately taking them back, and discarding them in front of the children. Parents were outraged, and when the story started to spread on social media, people around the world were angry, too.
Now, school officials say that a cafeteria manager at the school has been placed on paid administrative leave while the situation is being investigated. Superintendent McKell Withers says that as the investigation unfolds, more employees could also be placed on leave.
School officials say the decision to give and immediately take back lunches from some of the students was because those particular students had unpaid balances on their accounts. The students that had their lunches thrown away were given a piece of fruit and milk each.
To me this rises to the level of bullying," said Utah Senator Todd Weiler. "Children were humiliated. I think it’s an abuse of power. This person came into a school and used her power to humiliate and embarrass children and I think we ought to draw a line and say that’s not acceptable behavior."
The school district has apologized for the incident, but many are not taking it seriously. Reports claim that school officials have received threats, but the nature of those threats cannot be confirmed.
An academic program for gifted elementary students will be phased out of a New York City elementary school. Officials have decided that the program does not properly reflect the diverse make up of the school population.
Mary McDonald, principal at PS 139, sent a letter to parents on Jan. 24 saying that the school would no longer be accepting applications for Students of Academic Rigor — or SOAR — for incoming kindergartners.
“Our Kindergarten classes will be heterogeneously grouped to reflect the diversity of our student body and the community we live in,” the letter said.
Many parents seemed dismayed by the decision.
“Where are they going to put the higher-level students? Sometimes, there are different levels, and teachers can’t handle all the levels in one class,” said one mother who did not want to give her name. She did concede the program had a lot of white students.
Another mother, a Sudanese immigrant, also said SOAR was brimming with white students. Yet, she was hopeful that her daughter, who consistently has high test scores, would join the program.
According to records, PS 139 has about 1,000 students, over half of those students are black or hispanic while only 28 percent are white or Asian-American.
Parent Lisa Draho who has children in similar programs that are also being phased out said she felt like the classes were already inclusive. But she expressed confidence in the decision of the principal.
“Mary is very much a principal who really wants the best for the kids,” she said.
Seeking to reassure parents, McDonald sent a follow up letter to parents on Monday.
“At PS 139, we believe that all children can learn and achieve high standards. We also know that we want all children at PS 139 to have equal access to high quality, challenging curriculum, and to have ample opportunities to master complex material and build academic and personal self-confidence. We also want our classes to reflect the diversity of our community. We believe we can have both: classrooms characterized by rigor and diversity,” the letter read.
Teens Sentenced to Jail For Sexual Assault of 13-Year-Old Special Needs Girl, But Won't Go To Jail Until After Graduation
Three high school students in Commerce, Georgia are being sent to jail for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old special needs girl, but the judge’s sentence will actually allow them to attend class for the remainder of the school year.
Nicholas Joiner, Timothy Jermaine Clay, and Drashun Upadhyay will all be allowed to attend school but will be forced to go to jail within a week of their graduation in May. All three East Jackson Comprehensive High School students have been charged with various crimes, including child molestation and even statutory rape for one.
In total, six young men are involved with this case and will all be charged. Joiner, Clay, and Upadhyay all received four years of confinement in jail and 20 years of probation, among other sentences.
The sexual assault against the 13-year-old girl occurred in December 2012, and even though the perpetrators could begin their sentences now, legal experts say that it’s not uncommon for sentences to be delayed for convincing reasons like high school graduation.
A middle school student in Crosby, Texas posted a “kill list” online with the names of a dozen peers, and the parents of the children on the list are saying that the boy won’t face any charges because his father is a Harris County deputy.
“Does that have anything to do with it? If it was another child, would they have taken him in?” asked the mother of one of the targeted children.
“He listed names,” claimed another mother. “My son was one of them. [He said] that he wanted to hurt them and by hurt, he meant kill. I don’t want him to be back on campus with my kid or any other kid. He’s a danger to himself and other students.”
The Harris County District Attorney’s office chose not to press charges against the 13-year-old boy, saying that a thorough investigation was done to look into the matter and it was determined that the facts of the case led them to the decision. Harris County Precinct 3 maintains that the boy’s father had nothing to do with the decision.
The “kill list” was discovered after an online conversation between the boy and a female classmate on Facebook circulated.
The boy is currently suspended from school, and parents of the targeted children say they aren’t sure when or even if he will return.
Student editors at Neshaminy High School's newspaper, The Playwickian, have decided they will longer use the word "Redskins," which is the school's nickname for its sport teams.
Neshaminy High School even has a sign that reads: "Everybody do the Redskin Rumble."
The controversy began with an Oct. 23 editorial in The Playwickian, by the student editors, that stated: "Detractors will argue that the word is used with all due respect. But the offensiveness of a word cannot be judged by its intended meaning, but by how it is received."
"People are [saying], 'Just give in. It doesn't really matter,'" Gillian McGoldrick, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper, told the Associated Press. "But it's a huge deal, that we're being forced to say something that we don't want to."
Principal Robert McGee emailed the paper’s adviser, Tara Huber, with a “directive" that Huber passed onto the student editors.
“[Principal] McGee said, ‘I don’t think you have the right to not use the word Redskins,’” Reed Hennessy, the newspaper’s sports editor, told the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“It’s really upsetting that our rights are being questioned and that we are being forced into this situation,” stated McGoldrick. “We really didn’t do anything wrong except voice our opinions.”
“We have editorial control,” McGoldrick added. “We can’t censor, we’re an editorial board... We adopted this policy, and we should be able to use it.”
McGoldrick and Hennessy claim that the Pennsylvania Administrative Code’s “freedom of expression” policy allows to students express themselves unless that expression is “materially and substantially interferes with the educational process."
“It wasn't disruptive to any educational process, it wasn't violent,” added Hennessy. “It was just a pretty reasonable argument.”
Principal McGee, who will meet with the student editors tomorrow, claims the Washington Redskins have not given up their use of the name so the issue has not been decided.
"I don't think that's been decided at the national level, whether that word is or is not [offensive]. It's our school mascot," Principal McGee told the Associated Press. "I see it as a First Amendment issue running into another First Amendment issue."
The nonprofit Student Press Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania say the school probably cannot force students to use an offensive word.
"I understand that there's an inclination to want to protect a tradition at the school. But the First Amendment is a longer and a better-established tradition," said Frank LoMonte, of the Student Press Law Center. "It's exactly what we tell young people in the abstract we want them to do: use their voices in positive ways to bring about social change. And yet when they tried to do it in practice, the school slapped them down. That's a bad place for an educator to be."
Sources: Student Press Law Center, Associated Press, The Playwickian