Teachers can be harassed, bullied, threatened and intimidated by students. I have personally experienced this and will probably lose my job due to the false allegations made by these tormentors. I am an inclusion teacher in a senior level Government and Economics class.
In early winter a student climbed from a window and drew a picture of an enormous penis in the snow. Due to the danger the student put himself in on the second floor roof, I wrote the situation up to the administration. This made his friends mad.
Since that time (November or so), his friends have tormented me. I asked them to stop and a co-teacher told them to stop. In January, these students photo-shopped a picture of me with a pop can in my mouth, tweeted it to twitter and passed it around the school. I experienced daily verbal assaults by these students in class (an overcrowded class of 30 students). The lead teacher told them to stop saying things to me, so while she was in the class, they did stop. However, she seemed to need to run errands constantly and was often out of class, leaving me alone. When she would leave, these students would immediately begin their vulgar statements to me. I asked them to stop.
In March, I informed the vice-principal that I was being horribly harassed and bullied by students who were retaliating against me for the incident in the snow and that it had been going on for months. She told me to write them up, but I was afraid of further retaliation.
Two weeks ago, when lead teacher left for her errand, the boys (very large and intimidating) started shouting obscene questions at me, and continued with other loud questions pertaining to things like oral sex. I wrote their names down. One of the boys walked to my desk and said out loud, "If you write us up, we will get you in trouble. You will be sorry." I asked them how and he stated that they would show the administration an inappropriate picture of me (referring to the pop can). I stated that they did not have inappropriate pictures of me. I reported the incident to the lead teacher, who wrote them up, but because of the vulgarity of the statement, I could not repeat what they said. (Up until this time, I had ignored their comments to me, not wishing to add fuel to the fire and totally fearful of any further retaliation by these boys.) Even my son was being verbally harassed because of the pop can photo.
The next day the boys met with the administration, and were escorted back to the classroom by the principal who had interviewed them. A group of students from the classroom huddled around the boys who loudly said it went just as they planned it and the principal thought it was funny. I was totally shocked, but understood the vulgar comments were meant to get them sent to the office to create a problem for me.
The next day, a student approached me and asked if I was aware that they were doing an investigation into me and interviewing each of the 30 students in the classroom based on accusations made by these boys.
I approached the administration, who rudely informed me that he was doing his job by investigating charges made against me. I was horrified and did not understand why, if charges had been made against me by two vulgar boys, I had not been informed about the situation prior to an all-out inquisition of the whole classroom. I was not allowed to explain the situation and was told I could respond when the inquisition was complete. I informed him that those two boys had a photo-shopped picture of me that had been tweeted. He stated that he knew nothing of the photos then turned his head and chuckled.
That evening, a friend was at a local gym and overheard people talking about the situation. The next day I was shocked that students were saying, "You didn't get fired!" This week, another friend was at a counseling center and heard people talking of the situation.
I have struggled daily since November to work with these students, and it became more difficult every day. I became physically ill over this situation. In early May, the administration took my laptop, but would not tell me why. I was told to meet with him in the morning. I called my union rep. When we met with him, I was then informed of the charges against me. All these were false or exaggerated and distorted. These boys created a hostile work environment for me and stated that they had not learned anything the entire year. I am an inclusion teacher assigned to 10 of these students with IEPs. I do not plan the lessons or teach the class; I modify lessons and assist students.
The students accused me of cursing them, flipping them off, calling them names, showing inappropriate videos, insisting that there was no God and being an atheist. I am a Christian. They said I stated I was for the legalization of drugs, creating an environment that was unproductive to learning, and that I was sleeping and appeared to be drugged, and talked about my personal life.
I say false, exaggerated and distorted because these two contributed to any unproductive learning environment every time the lead teacher was out of the room. They called me names, continually made inappropriate statements to me. Part of their daily assignment was reading the newspaper -- assigned by the teacher -- which is why they say they've learned nothing. I did not have any discussions with these students. I have never slept through a class. I have been so totally sickened by this situation that I have lost 15 pounds in just a few months. I am a diabetic. The class has never discussed God or drugs even though our local paper is full of drug abuse articles. I have not cursed them, flipped them off, called them names or shown inappropriate videos. I have discussed my personal financial situation during an assignment on household budgets and the fact that because of my husband dying I am now responsible for $300,000 in debt that I cannot afford to pay nor will I ever recover from my financial situation.
I advised them on how not to create a situation like mine. I do not feel that advising them on their future finances, based on my experience is inappropriate. The other teacher also gave personal experiences.
I was forced to write a response to these allegations. I have had a nervous breakdown over this situation. I have been put off on a medical leave for two weeks by my doctor. I am destroyed. This situation is more than any person can take. I'm having panic attacks just thinking about walking back in into this school. I've been told I could lose my job and my certification over this situation. I was told by my union that when I return to work they will fire me. I was widowed a year ago, I am 46 and have two children to take care of. Without my job I am going to lose my whole life.
Because of this situation and the fact that they interviewed 30 students without talking to me about the situation, I have lost my reputation. I am not allowed to talk about this with the students, parents, co-workers - anyone, yet the whole town is talking about me. I have been judged by the whole town without being able to defend myself because the administration would not allow me to make a statement prior to including 30 students in a situation that involved two vulgar students making their horridly vulgar comments in a classroom full of other boys and girls.
I have been unable to stop crying. I am continually shaking. I am at the end. I have no way to leave my town or start a new life somewhere else. I would have no way of ever teaching again if I lose my job. I love teaching. I am afraid to leave my house. If I lose my job, I will be out of options.
I have read up on harassment laws and my rights have been violated. There seems to be no help for teachers in situations like this when students make false allegations against a teacher and destroy their lives. We have had training on student-on-student bullying, but we have never had training on harassment, sexual or verbal - there are no signs in the school about EEO processes or contact numbers for whom to contact when you are harassed by your administration or other people in the workplace. There has been no training on what to do when students harass teachers - but according to the literature - it is a national epidemic.
The United States does not seem to be acknowledging this problem -- all the blame is on the teachers. The consequences for treating teachers with disrespect are not enforced. In my situation, my harassers were immediately sent back to the classroom, with the impression that the administration found the situation humorous and able to further erode the education system by sharing their experience for being vulgar in the classroom.
Also during this year, another student threatened to burn my house down, killing me and my children. I had never met this student - yet he admitted saying it.
The rate of suicide for teachers is 40 percent higher than in other professions. Apparently, England and Canada have taken steps to protect their teachers from false allegations, but the United States just allows the students to run the show. There is no respect for teachers anymore. The teachers are held accountable for things beyond their control, like test scores and attendance. The new teacher evaluation system does not favor teachers. The turn over rate for teaching is very high.
Our school has low morale -- more than 25 teachers have left in the two years that the new administrator has been in charge. I do not wish to leave. I just won’t return with those students in my class. There are teachers teaching at my school without teaching licenses and without proper training. Most of the teachers in my school are in continual fear of losing their jobs, due to the unobtainable demands placed on the teachers by the administration.
I take full responsibility for allowing these two boys to intimidate, harass and threaten me and their creation of an undesirable learning environment. I have three self-contained classes that are nothing like this class. They are beautiful students and make my whole day. I blame my administration for giving such support to students while overlooking the needs of the teachers. Had I had harassment training, and been given access to the fact that there was an EEO department that I could have gone to, I probably could have defeated this situation instead of being defeated by the situation.
I need someone to pray for me. Thank you for having a place where I could post my issue because I am under a gag order by my school - while the whole town talks about me.
Students do harass, intimidate and threaten teachers, probably more often than teachers harass students. I have worked in three other schools and never had this problem. I also observed these boys harass a 65 year old gay teacher. He did not know what to do, either.