Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvania’

I Once Had a Gun Put to My Head Whilst Teaching

February 13, 2020



In my first year as a teacher, I had a nasty experience.

As I was teaching a 6th Grade class, an 8th grader stormed into my classroom looking angry, adorning a vicious look and immediately approached me, put a gun to my head and pulled the trigger.

I flinched in pure, unadulterated fear.

Turns out the gun was a plastic toy. Albeit, a lifelike plastic toy.

The kid involved thought the nasty trick was hilarious. So did the entire 6th Grade class.

I was stunned that after I described the event to my Principal and the enormous negative effect it had on my mental state, the best he could do was give the kid in question an in-house suspension.

That’s right, the kid wasn’t even sent home! The parents weren’t even called in!

So, you can imagine that I am very sensitive about threats against teachers, especially when they involve guns.

But, even after recounting my brush with gun violence at the hands of a student, I find this story absolutely rediculous and an extraordinary case of overreach:


A Pennsylvania elementary school called the police after a kindergartner with Down syndrome made a finger gun at her teacher. Officials concluded there wasn’t a threat, but the girl’s mother said they went too far.

Maggie Gaines called on the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District to update its threat assessment policy after her 6-year-old daughter Margot was questioned by administrators for making a gun gesture at her elementary school teacher and pretended to shoot her.
Gaines said it was a harmless expression of anger. But Margot’s school in southeast Pennsylvania determined her actions appeared threatening, so they conducted a threat assessment


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50 Shades of School Madness

February 12, 2015


The crazy howlers some schools make just mystifies me:


Parents in a US school district are turning 50 shades of red over word search puzzles given to middle school students based on an erotic novel and movie.

The students in Monessen, Pennsylvania, were given puzzles based on “Fifty Shades of Grey” that contained terms including “spanking” “submissive”, “leather cuffs” and “bondage”. Other words on the list were more explicit.

Parent James Carter complained about it at Tuesday night’s school board meeting, saying he tried to question the school’s principal and dean of students, but they refused to talk when he insisted on recording their conversation.

“I wanted to record the conversation because a lot of parents had questions about it, and I was denied that,” Carter told the board.

Monessen district officials said at the meeting that they couldn’t discuss the issue because they just learned about it Monday. Superintendent Leanne Spazak said the circumstances of the puzzle are under investigation.

One school board member who didn’t attend the meeting told WTAE-TV that the puzzle was a big mistake.

“It was a huge but unintentional error and collected from the five students involved as soon as it was realized,” Roberta Bergstedt wrote in an email. “Unfortunately one copy was taken by a student who then posted it on social media.”

The best-selling book-turned-film by E L James is in cinemas this week about is about a college student and her affair with a 27-year-old billionaire with a penchant for bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism.



Click on the link to read We Must Empower Our Children to Identify Disgusting Teachers

Click on the link to read Some Teachers Are Just Downright Cruel!

Click on the link to read If We Cannot Offer Teachers Performance Pay, Then Let’s Scrap Best Teacher Awards

Click on the link to read The Things Some Teachers Think They Can Get Away With

Cash-Strapped School Auctions Itself on eBay

July 3, 2012

Interesting idea. Hope it works:

A CASH-strapped US high school hopes to raise money from a wealthy benefactor by auctioning itself on eBay.

Officials at The Learning Center in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, are seeking bids starting around $US600,000 ($548,000) to offset steep budget cuts.

The eBay listing describes the public alternative school for at-risk teens as “pre-owned” and “slightly used.”

The winner won’t own the school, which is located near Philadelphia. But he or she will get a naming opportunity, a free large pizza and the satisfaction of “delivering an education to a group of kids who could really use it”.

If a bidder is found it will be the first time someone buys a school in return for a free pizza.

Huge Setback for the Fight Against Cyberbullying

January 19, 2012

Today is a disappointing day for all Americans (and the vast majority don’t know it). The Supreme Court’s decision not to overturn a previous decision which found in favour of students who harassed and slandered two Principals on the grounds that the school did not have the authority to punish them for deeds committed outside of the school gates.

The court let stand the suspension of a West Virginia high school’s “Queen of Charm,” who created a Web page that suggested another student had a sexually transmitted disease, and invited classmates to comment.

The court also left alone rulings that said schools could not discipline two Pennsylvania students for MySpace parodies of their principals that the students created at home. An appeals court, following 40-year-old case law on student speech, said the posts did not create substantial disruptions at school.

Lawyers on both sides were disappointed that it will be at least another year before the high court wades into the issue. Federal judges have issued a broad range of opinions on the subject.

“We’ve missed an opportunity to really clarify for school districts what their responsibility and authority is,” said Francisco Negron, general counsel of the National School Boards Association. “This is one of those cases where the law is simply lagging behind the times.”

This is a bitter blow for American society. Cyber bullying is a significant problem. It is my opinion that schools should most certainly get involved when its students are bullying each other (irrespective of where they are when they do it). By working with the parents, schools can play a vital role in deterring  bullies from victimising others online.

I am very saddened to read that the Supreme Court is of the opinion that when a child call their Principals names like a “big fag”, “whore”, “hairy sex addict” and “pervert”,  their posts do “not create substantial disruptions at school.” Really? I would have thought it would certainly undermine the authority of the Principal. And should she/he is unable to take any action, it sets an awful message that you can get away with saying anything online.

Is this progress? I think not!

Students Using the First Amendment to Slander Their Principals

January 15, 2012

I am a big believer in free speech. I consider myself very lucky to be in a country where my thoughts and feelings can be expressed freely without recriminations. But like all other laws and freedoms there are boundaries. I might have free speech, but I am also restricted by sensible limitations to what I can say.

When students use social media to call their Principals names like a “big fag”, “whore”, “hairy sex addict” and “pervert”, and the consequence for their actions is nothing more than a suspension, I think they should count themselves very lucky. To then sue on the grounds of freedom of speech and win says a lot about the judicial system and the difficulties educators face in earning basic respect.

A middle school principal in northeastern Pennsylvania was shocked to see his photo online along with a description of him as a “hairy sex addict” and a “pervert” who liked “hitting on students” in his office.

A high school principal north of Pittsburgh saw a MySpace profile of himself that called him a “big fag,” a “whore” and a drug user. And in West Virginia, a school principal found out that a girl had created an online site to maliciously mock another girl as a “slut” with herpes.

All three students were suspended from school and filed suits against the principal and the school districts. They argued the 1st Amendment protected them from being punished for postings from their home computers. And in the two Pennsylvania cases, they won.

Whilst these awful slurs may technically be classified as “free speech”, verbal bullying of any kind can also be defended under the guise of free speech. Is this what we want? People supported by the courts to demoralise, slur and denigrate others? How are principals supposed to tackle bullying when they can’t even deal with bullies who are attacking them?

The exploitation of free speech will see bullying, especially cyber bullying, continue to gain momentum. These students should never have been suspended. They should have been expelled!

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