For simplicity's sake, I think I will just cut and paste my "statement" written for Admin....
On Wednesday, November 3, 2010, J*** came to class very agitated. Everything that I said in class was met with a disrespectful and/or combative response. We were going to the library and so as we walked out, I asked her if she was ok. She told me she had nothing to say to me. I asked if she needed to go to guidance. I did this because after a similar incident with J*** the previous week during a test, Ms. Guidance Counselor asked me to please do this as a courtesy in the future when J*** got upset, because she has been working with J*** on controlling her emotions. J*** refused to go. I warned her that there would be consequences if she continued on with this behavior. She told me that I couldn’t do anything to her and then walked ahead of me to the library. Just in case, I grabbed a guidance pass before locking up the classroom.
When I found her in the library, instead of looking for a book, she was seated on the sofa loudly talking to three other students about the situation with the Book Report. I leaned over and quietly told her that she needed to either go to guidance or I would call an administrator. She stated that she wasn’t going anywhere. I asked the librarian to call an administrator. When J*** saw that an administrator was being called, she apparently got up and went to guidance. By the time, Mr. Morale-Crushing Administrator arrived, J*** was gone and I briefed him on the situation.
J*** returned to class in no better frame of mind than she was in before. Instead of doing her work, she had a printout with her grades in my class on it and was talking to a friend loudly saying “How can I have good grades in this class all 9 weeks and then fail because I didn’t turn one thing in?” I gave J*** her work and told her what we were doing. She resisted doing the work and argued with me. I told her that we could talk about it after class but this was not the time or place. J*** was very angry and aggressive. At that point, I told her I was calling an administrator. I picked up the phone and dialed and while it was ringing, J*** said something (and I can not remember the exact words) to the effect that she was going to punch me in the mouth. “Mouth” is the only word that I remember for sure as being used—the verb is unclear, but it was clearly a physical threat. I was so shocked and upset by what was such an obvious threat, I could not believe what I heard and I turned around and said,
“J***, what did you just say?”
She responded, “You heard me! Why I need to repeat it?”
At that moment, I was so stunned I blurted out, “Because I was hoping you would have the sense to shut your stupid mouth.”
At that point, I stepped into the doorway to wait for an administrator.
Ok, was that the best thing to say? No. But I had just been threatened and wasn't exactly thinking clearly. At worst, I insulted this child. I didn't threaten her for crying out loud. The problem? No one heard exactly what J*** said, but EVERYONE heard what I had said. So Mr. Morale-Crushing Administrator informed me that while they would honor my request to have this child removed from my class, she would receive no disciplinary action. Why? Because of what I said to her.
"So let me understand this," I said. "You are not disciplining her because of what I said in response to an entire class period of unacceptable behavior?"
"You are then sending the message to a student that if they ramp up their behavior to a level that makes a teacher lose it, there will be no consequences."
"Ok, so her defiant, disrespectful and disruptive behavior is considered acceptable? Because if that's what you are saying, then I'm not sure I can let this go."
Ok, fine. I'll give her 2 days of ISD <In School Detention>. (By the way, I am not sure this ever happened).
I was somewhat satisfied at that point, but more than anything, deeply disturbed by the lack of support I had gotten from Admin. Did I mention that this child had been kicked out of school the year before and had to go to "Community," which is the county high school for the kids who are a discipline problem? But, she gets the benefit of the doubt instead of the teacher....that makes TOTAL sense.
The upside to this, if there is one, is that I found out that I was not the exception, but the rule. Across the board, I had teachers of every age, color, subject and teaching style come tell me similar stories. I also had their total support. My Department Head (who I am totally in love with now) as well as my mentor (who was assigned to me when I started my job), totally went to bat for me with Admin. I could feel the love and it helped alot. But the "Us versus Them" atmosphere is disturbing.
My mother told me how sad she was that I was teaching "in that kind of school"--meaning one full of poor, minorities. They aren't the problem. Its Admin., and I could have that problem at any school. So now I know. Document everything. Watch my mouth. Expect no support. Most important--I broke down and joined the NEA (National Education Association), because apparently Admin. is less likely to mess with you if you have a national organization with free lawyers behind you.
Live and learn... Sigh...