Teacher Fired For Stopping Fight With Broom

By Wendy Cooper
Wendy Cooper
Wendy Cooper
Wendy Cooper holds a law degree and lives in Michigan but dreams of becoming a California gal. She has written articles for the American Bar Association Health Care section, the Ann Arbor News, and online blogs. She can be reached at her Facebook page or on Twitter @WendyBCooper. She also writes for www.quietmike.org.
May 8, 2014 Updated: April 23, 2016

 

A Detroit high school teacher was fired after a video surfaced showing her attempting to stop a fight between two male students. In the video, the two students are fighting for roughly 30 seconds before the teacher tries to intervene. Other students are standing by watching the as the two fight. When the teacher does step in, she appears to strike one student several times with a broom.

The student hit with the broom backs off but continues the fight after the other student runs back to him. It is not until another student steps in that the fight stops. Shortly after that the video stops.

In response to the video the district fired the teacher. The statement released by the district states that the district does not tolerate child abuse. At first glance it appears that the teacher is left with little or no recourse. While most Detroit school teachers are unionized, the teacher in question was employed by the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) which does not permit unions.

The EAA, passed in 2009 by the Republican controlled legislature, allows for state takeover of underperforming districts and places numerous restrictions on the district in return. One of those restrictions is based on the deep-seeded hate of unions held by elected Republicans. It appears that they have drawn an inference from unionized teachers to poor performance of students. Even though it lacks any rational basis.

Michigan was once considered the birthplace of unionized labor. However, in 2012, Right-to-Work was passed stripping unions of a lot of their bargaining power. In addition, laws have been passed fining individuals as much as $1,000 a day for protesting and organizations, if found responsible for the protest, face a much steeper fine.

Say what you will about unions in general but they do have a legitimate place in business. Unions are responsible for equal pay between men and women in union shops; they protect workers from unsafe work environments; and they ensure that before any employee can be fired the employee receives a hearing with a union representative present.

Protocol for EAA Teachers

There is a protocol laid out by the EAA that teachers are required to follow when violence breaks out in a classroom. Each teacher is given a radio to call for security if needed. However, the radio given to this teacher did not work. The teacher must ensure the safety of the other students and stay in her classroom at all times. Lastly, she has a duty to do what is necessary to diffuse a violent situation. 

It is very clear this particular teacher found herself between the proverbial “rock and a hard place.” As Keith Johnson, President of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, put it “the method that she used, in terms of swatting one with a broom, is a violation of the corporal punishment provision under the Michigan school code. But she’s caught in a quandary because under that same code she’s expected to do what is necessary to diffuse a situation.”  

It seems not only unfair to the teacher involved but it leaves you wondering what message is being sent to the students. Instead of emphasizing the violent behavior of the students the focus is on the teacher’s response to a dangerous situation. For their part both boys have received 10 day suspensions. One of the students who admitted to fighting, Kiren Lowery, denies any responsibility for her termination. He thinks she should have waited for security to come. Sort of leaves you speechless doesn’t it?

 

Wendy Cooper
Wendy Cooper holds a law degree and lives in Michigan but dreams of becoming a California gal. She has written articles for the American Bar Association Health Care section, the Ann Arbor News, and online blogs. She can be reached at her Facebook page or on Twitter @WendyBCooper. She also writes for www.quietmike.org.