One student’s defamation caused a ripple effect of destruction with zero consequences for her proven lies and deceit. Bullying accusations caused me to resign from teaching. I’m heart broken and disappointed with the facts from the case and it altered who I am as an educator.
I’ve been teaching nearly 10 years, the last 2 at a phenomenal high school with an A+ administration. My principal has supported me throughout this ordeal, but her hands were tied as the ‘bully’ word is the buzz word that spins up our district. I was not a union member because I was a great teacher: tough, strict, and fair. I felt if I ever did something worthy of district intervention, then I didn’t need the union, I needed to leave the classroom. I never expected someone would make something up. I was naïve.
A student from our high school dance team I sponsored after school, for free, on my own time decided to quit the team and join another dance team from the town. At the time, I was relieved since her jazz dance technique wasn’t blending well with the team’s hip hop genre. I felt she would be happier if she could shine somewhere else. I spent a great amount of energy trying to blend her ideas with the team’s strengths as well as help develop her leadership among her peers, since that’s what good teachers do, but all to no avail. She left for the other team with my blessing and best wishes. She even became a dance instructor and now had a part time job. A win-win for all!
I founded the team with the hope that I could reach students like her, which needed a purpose, love, and attention. Her home life was traumatic at best. Dance was my escape as a teen so I knew I could provide the same opportunities for my students. Our year was going very well. Our first performance was a crowd favorite.
The week after that performance, I was informed of the accusation. For a month, I waited to see what if anything the district was going to do about it. I wrote a witness statement but that was it. I never spoke to the student, the parent, my team, no one except my assistant principal who was informing me of the process.
At the district meeting, without representation since I had done nothing wrong, I was able to hear all of the accusations against me and the flat out lies that this dancer and another dancer were able to state without any repercussion. Although hurt, I was still thinking of how to make this a teachable moment for the dancer since she was so freely falsifying information. Her testimony could be refuted by another adult that was present, video evidence, text messages, etc. all proved the insanity of this accusation. This child needed help. I wanted a consequence and counsel for her so she could grow through this process rather than graduate as a dysfunctional young woman. Isn’t that why we teach? Aren’t we called to guide and correct behavior as well as teach content?
Although I was fully ‘acquitted’, I was no longer effective in the classroom. I was BULLIED by a teenager and nothing could be done about it. I was told by the district to ‘let it go’. This student went on the next week to make accusations about another teacher.
I understand and applaud the efforts schools put it place to protect children. It is necessary! Our system however is broken because teachers are often victimized and we’re forced to suppress it. We know the job we signed up for, but no one deserves to be mistreated. Teachers are people too!