Monday, December 31, 2012

Last-Minute Curmie Contenders: Abusive Teacher Edition

One last pair of last-minute Curmie contenders, this time the Abusive Teacher Edition.

Applicant #1 is John Rosi of Kopachuk (WA) Middle School. For one 15-minute period last February, in a class allegedly devoted to reading and math preparation, students abused a classmate. They dragged him around the room. The carried him by his arms and legs. They peeled off his socks and stuffed them in his mouth, then wrote on his feet. They buried him under chairs and under pillows. (One moment is captured at right.)

Where was the “teacher,” Rosi, during this? Joining in. Yes, joining in as a smaller boy was bullied by the entire class. He sat on the boy, saying he was feeling “gassy.” He poked the kid in the stomach. The whole thing was recorded on cell phones, Rosi knew it and… get this… mugged for the cameras.

Rosi, of course, isn’t really a teacher at all. He’s a wrestling coach, and a moron. In one of the most disingenuous apologies since Pierre Corneille (shout-out to veterans of my theatre history class), he proclaims that he “[knows] the difference between inflicting pain and innocent horseplay,” and that he viewed the incident as a “chance for the kids to take a break from the daily grind.”

He’s either lying, or his shoe size exceeds his IQ by a factor of two. The physical pain experienced by the boy is the least of his worries, as anyone with the slightest understanding of adolescence can attest. And that a teacher would not merely condone but actually participate in this brutality ought to get his sorry ass fired.

It wasn’t, of course. He was suspended for 10 days and re-assigned. This is a guy whose base salary is more than mine (I’m a full professor at an accredited university, with a PhD and over 20 years of full-time teaching experience), and that doesn’t count the $10K coaching add-on. You’d think he might have the sense God gave a louse. Nope. But his false piety paid off (he’s a coach, after all). In a school run by a competent principal, in a district administered by a superintendent who actually cared about his students, Rosi would not only have been fired before he could blink, he’d have been lucky to escape without jail time. Not with the likes of Acting Superintendent Chuck Cuzzetta: it wasn’t a complete abrogation of every tenet of professional ethics; it was “inappropriate classroom management,” and Rosi’s punishment was “pretty significant.” Not in my book.

How do you top that? Well, maybe with this year’s variation on the theme of last year’s Curmie Award Winner. Remember the teacher who stuffed a special needs kid into the equivalent of a gym bag? Well, Lillian Gomez (left) of Sunrise Elementary School in Kissimmee, Florida, apparently asked herself, “how about soaking crayons and Play-Doh in hot sauce and force-feeding the concoction to autistic students? Yeah, that will teach those brats not to put things in their mouths.”

The good news here is that the school district, the Osceola County system, seems to have acted appropriately. They got rid of her. And she appealed… to a judge… who recommended that she not be fired. Really. Apparently, however, that was a recommendation rather than an order, and… write this down because it doesn’t happen very often… the school board stood up on its hind legs and said “no.”

Jay Wheeler of the school board said, “We decided to put child safety first, and not put somebody back in the classroom that intended to do harm to children.” This might seem obvious to most people, but this is somebody on a school board, so it’s actually something of an event that Wheeler and his comrades decided to do the right thing instead of the easy thing.

The fact that Gomez is no longer in the classroom—no thanks to an idiot judge who cares more about intent (whether she intended to punish students) than volition (she absolutely intended to hurt students, whatever the specific motivation for her actions)—is a good thing, but it doesn’t change her suitability for a Curmie… it’s just that the district doesn’t get to share in her ignominy.

So there you have it: the final two candidates for the coveted Curmie. It is, alas, a long list, and there were plenty of stories I missed. I hope to have the nominees decided and the poll up tomorrow. Happy New Year, everyone!

1 comment:

Christopher George said...

John Rossi exceeds all other candidates for this honor by a full order of magnitude. Your bar graph should look like the electoral results of the 1984 presidential election.