When teachers are suspended, aren’t students punished?

In reading about the 20-day suspensions handed out in two Clayton County cases — the drama student sex in the empty classroom and the teacher love triangle melee – and the threat of suspension in the Barrow County Facebook case, I have several questions:

1. Doesn’t the suspended teacher come back under a cloud? None of my children’s teachers has ever been suspended, but I would certainly worry about what a teacher did to be removed from a classroom setting for four weeks. Can the teachers be effective after this or is their reputation shot?

2. Don’t the students of a suspended teacher lose valuable and irreplaceable instruction time? I have read studies about how teacher absences affect student performance. In one study, high teacher absences from the classroom were associated with lower scores. The timing of a suspension – before the CRCT or near the end of an AP class — could certainly hurt student performance. I have been a substitute teacher in a high school, and those students clearly lost ground with me. I filled in for several different classes, and my main instructions were to keep kids quiet and out of the halls. This was back when I was in graduate school and,while I could have taught journalism, I could not teach geometry or French, two of the classes for which I subbed now and then.

3. Is there a better way to reprimand teachers without yanking them out of the classroom and making the students suffer, too?

4. Are suspensions worth it? (In most cases that I read about, I think suspensions are an extreme punishment, including the students-having-sex-in-the-classroom saga. I am not sure, however, that suspension wasn’t too light a result in the teacher love triangle brawl in which one participant resigned and one was suspended for 19.5 days.  (Also, I am not too keen on “my pregnancy made me do it” defense. I have been pregnant, including very pregnant with full-term twins. And while I had uncontrollable urges to sit down quite a bit, I never became so hormonal that I would chase down co-workers and pound them.)

24 comments Add your comment

Philosopher

November 20th, 2009
9:59 am

I agree- suspensions should be VERY carefully considered and rarely handed out. Even a day or 2 with a substitute teacher causes problems, especially when new material has been advanced. Kids need stability…and not only do they get used to a teacher’s teaching style which helps them assimilate the information, they also become, on some level, emotionally attached to most teachers. I will admit, however, that there have been a time or two over the years when I would have been ecstatic to have a teacher suspended…permanently!

oldtimer

November 20th, 2009
10:19 am

I agree with you. The 20 day for the FP High teacher was way too much….but we do not know if he had had problems before. Both the fighting teachers should be GONE. I would not want my child in a class with a teacher so “hormonal”. And, you are correct about most sub. teachers, though they all try.

FultonTeacher

November 20th, 2009
10:20 am

How about when a principal and asst. principal are suspended for 6 weeks? That happened in Fulton a few years ago. Also, school systems need to have fewer workshops during the school day. I’ve known teachers to miss nearly 20 days of school to go to workshops. How could their students receive a quality education with the teacher missing so many days. If a teacher needs to be reprimanded, taking them away from the classroom for 20 days is excessive. Another form of punishment should be administered.

Northview (Ex) Teacher

November 20th, 2009
10:51 am

Maureen,

Your question today is flawed because your premise is false. You seem to assume that administrators actually care about students’ educations. Anyone who has worked in Fulton County for any period of time knows that this is not the case.

The herd mentality starts at the top, with the school board and its two Sarah Palin wannabes: Katie Reeves and the loathsome and despicable Ashley Windener. Take a look at how Ashley’s husband gets his money (Ashley herself is too incompetent to earn a living) and tell me that this is a person who cares about students. Her mission is to destroy public education. She doesn’t give a crap about anybody or anyone, especially not about the students. She will do anything that someone pays her to do, which points close to what she really is.

Perhaps it’s time to name names, teachers. Like Diogenes, I am looking for an honest administrator. Can any teacher name an administrator who puts students really, truly first, ahead of turf protection and cooperating with Katie and Ashley in destroying our schools? Can anyone provide a single example of an administrator who refused to implement a directive, even argued against a directive, that was not in the interests of our students and their education? Is there even one example?

Sometimes, silence is a roar.

mystery poster

November 20th, 2009
10:52 am

I’m sure that teachers who are suspended without pay would be VERY reluctant to leave lesson plans and/or grade work from when they were out.

Jennifer

November 20th, 2009
11:03 am

Keeping teachers OR kids out of the classroom is not a good thing for anyone. Suspensions should be an absolute last resort for both. Let’s find other interventions that change the unwanted behavior.

Ed Scofield

November 20th, 2009
11:21 am

All of this conflict occurred over a “male model” of a teacher. I have a little trouble believing that he is totally innocent in this matter. “Equal protection under the law” seems to be “taught” to the female teachers, but not to the male subject of the quarrel. If I had the power to do so, I would transfer the male teacher to “Siberia” for the remainder of the School year. I have seen few trained educators who really set a good constitutional example by their own behavior. I definitely would not want my own granddaughter around that “male model”. He’s, most likely, one of the 85 per cent who shouldn’t be trusted around anyone’s daughter.

Ridiculous

November 20th, 2009
11:22 am

The PSC loves to suspend teachers, and often quite a bit longer than what he districts decide. I know of a teacher right now, who took a two day suspension from his district, and he is now battling with the state PSC who wants to suspend his license 90 business days (a semester) based off the same evidence that got him two days with the district, and by the way both the state and the district agree it was an unintentional mistake the teacher made concerning testing procedures.

Lynn

November 20th, 2009
11:25 am

The suspension should never have happened. His students are suffering as well. My children have had several instances in high schools of teachers out for 8 to 12 weeks for maternity leave and a sub or supply teacher is used. In one of these cases the class was Spanish III and the sub did not speak Spanish. Needless to say these students suffered greatly trying to take the departmental tests. Did the school care? No. They just sent out the manadatory NCLB letter saying the class was taught by an unqualified teacher during that period. (Sent at the end of the sub’s time by the way).

In another situation we have had teachers quit in the midst of semester while teaching a higher level Math class. The replacement teacher was a Math major but fresh out of college with no teaching experience or courses. The teacher kept saying I don’t know why you need to have this kind of Math even explained. It’s obvious. Again, students did not do well on departmental tests and again the Administration did not care.

mystery poster

November 20th, 2009
11:34 am

@Ed, which teacher are you talking about, the one whose student was caught having sex or the one in the love triangle?

IMHO, they warrant totally different consequences. I liked the analogy someone made yesterday about the drama teacher’s student: unless the consequence would have been the same if the students were caught studying together, then they are punishing the teacher for the student’s behavior.

mystery poster

November 20th, 2009
11:48 am

My previous post mentioned s3x, so it must’ve been caught in the filter:

@ed, which teacher are you referring to? IMHO, they warrant completely different consequences. Someone brought up the analogy yesterday, if the drama students had been caught studying instead, would the punishment have been the same? If not, the teacher is being punished for the student’s actions.

As far as the Jerry Springer wannabees, their actions deserve much more severe consequences.

Flash

November 20th, 2009
11:54 am

Teachers are under a scope they are held to a very high standard and receive very little support. Teachers are guilty until proven innocent.The worst student in the building can get a teacher job.The good students are suffering and the bad students is running the yard.Suspension well thats better than getting fired , their is no support for a teacher.

Eric R

November 20th, 2009
12:06 pm

Maureen, I teach AP physics and AP calculus. About 10 years ago, as head soccer coach, I mistakenly played a (straight A) student (from a performing arts theme school with no sports programs) in soccer game. The GA. PSC recommended a 15 day suspension from classroom teaching never explaining my actual violation. However, after about a year, the Attorney General (through my lawyers at MACE and. T) intervened and my case was dismissed stating I was a talented teacher who made a simple honest reasonable player eligibility mistake. And the kicker: if I was suspended from teaching, “innocent third party students” in my very successful (highest in nation pass rates on AP exams) would suffer.” I now refuse to coach /stay after school or assume any extra responsibility. My AP class was still tops in the nation though!

Lynn

November 20th, 2009
1:04 pm

This is exactly the reason you need a Teachers Union. They protect the Teacher, Parent and Students in all cases. They establish due process for all incidence and make sure Instructional time is neither lost nor wasted because of Teacher issues. In other school districts in Conn. and New Jersey a Teacher is reassigned for such issues that have been happening. Most people think Teachers Unions only protect bad teachers but they don’t. Parents have a stronger voice and School Boards are there to Govern not Dictate!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Scary

November 20th, 2009
2:14 pm

The president has already admitted that the policy he seeks for Cap and Trade will cause our electricity bills to ’skyrocket.’ Sadly, those hit hardest will be those who are already struggling to make ends meet. Enjoy that Obama sheep.

???

November 20th, 2009
2:48 pm

Maureen,

I do have a question for you. Why did you take a substitute position if you felt that you could have not taught the class properly? Why did you not specify on your sub application the classes you felt comfortable teaching?

In my opionion your actions hurt the students also. It looks to me like you took a job just for the money but you didn’t provide the class with the necessary academic skills needed for that day. Shame on you!

Maureen Downey

November 20th, 2009
2:51 pm

mandy, It was 25 years ago. I was asked to sub as there was a shortage. I am certain that I filled out all the applications required. I also never knew where I was subbing until I received the call that morning. I followed the notes left for me by the teacher, but it was not unusual to arrive and that there were no instructions there from the teacher. I never subbed more than one day every few weeks, as that was all my own grad class schedule allowed. I usually filled in for an ill teacher.
This was not Georgia, but a very urban district in New Jersey. I think the landscape has changed a lot since then.
Maureen

mystery poster

November 20th, 2009
2:56 pm

I spent many years as a sub in a state with a teacher surplus. Even with too many teachers, good subs were hard to find. They would call you if a teacher requested you or if you were known to have good classroom management skills. Usually this was only for a few days at a time.

There was no such thing as a “supply” teacher, though. You would go on teacher’s salary after a set number of days (varied by district).

One district I subbed in even had a union for subs, and we could buy into the TRS.

Bumby Johnson

November 20th, 2009
3:03 pm

The teachers who fought over the teacher should have been suspended without pay pending termination. Human Resources has a double standard. HR director Douglas Hendrix participated in unprofessional conduct when he admitted that he touched a fellow employee’s hair in the work place and he did not recieve any sanctions. Stepahanie Phillips conducted the investigation and she did not find him guilty of sexual harrassment. Interesting.

Bumby Johnson

November 20th, 2009
3:10 pm

Edmond Heatley, Clayton County Schools Superintendent, according to his resume has only two years of classroom teaching experience. In order to obtain a leadership Certificate in the state of Georgia, he needs 3 years of teaching experience. PSC how will you handle this delimma? Who granted the waiver at PSC?

Str* off Candler Rd.

November 20th, 2009
3:33 pm

I believe that Dr. Heatley has classroom teaching experience in the military. Also there is a program in Ga. called troops to teachers. this all should qualify him to receive ga certification. Additionally, there is something call reciprocity.

Joy in Teaching

November 21st, 2009
9:38 am

Someone said eariler:

“Teachers are guilty until proven innocent.”

Yep, yep, and yep. A student’s word will ALWAYS be taken as gospel over a teacher’s word. Alll too often, administrators will throw a teacher under a bus just to get the student’s parent to shut up and go away.

There are some good administrators out there as there is an amazing AP in my building who will go to the mat to defend a teacher who needs defending. However, those adminstrators are few and far between. The one good one in my building is liked by both students, teachers, and most parents and is known to be a strict, but fair, disciplinarian. Yet, he is on my principal’s “list” and it is fairly common knowledge that she wants him to be gone.

HSteacher

November 22nd, 2009
10:24 am

Look, this is a simple question. Judge the individual act according to a specifically set code of ethics and remove the ambiguity and interpretations of individual principals or districts. In the CC case, the teachers cussed and fought in front of children. They not only were unethical, they were legally liable. Clearly they are due criminal charges that should nullify their contracts. We need to demand a clearer code of ethics that lays out specific standards of conduct and clear, legally sound consequences. That would solve a lot of problems and keep unnecessary suspensions from happening.

E

November 24th, 2009
8:31 am

Some teachers regularly leave no or little sub instructions. A video is common. Sometimes I had teachers plan to be absent on a day when we had a project to work on, class discussions planned or a test for the sub to just monitor. That’s a step up from a wasted day. Our best teachers, however, were somewhat familiar with the pool of subs and kept lists of those qualified to actually teach their class, and planned to get those particular subs as early as possible. Usually it was a good department or two, and the other teachers in that subject would be able to keep an eye out to advise their best ‘regular subs’. That is, of course, going beyond the general requirements – but it can certainly be done by the best teachers.