Career Killer? Need Advice!

Discussion in 'Job Hunting & Interviews' started by Kirk, Dec 24, 2006.

  1. Kirk

    Kirk Rookie

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    Dec 24, 2006

    I subbed for two years while completing M.A. Ed. Finished my masters and awaiting hiring season for contract. Have been unpacking boxes and inadvertantly brought a clip-on knife to school. Knife was never out of my pocket. One child saw the knife and complained to principal. Unaware of the seriousness of situation and unclear of district "no tolerance policy," when asked, I acknowledged I had a knife in my pocket. I was then sumarily dismissed. Now I plan to leave the state as this is the only district in which I want to live (very large district.)
    I desire to work for awhile as a substitute in another state. I am very concerned about how to handle application process and dealing with the fact that I have been canned. Any advice appreciated.
     
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  3. teresaglass

    teresaglass Groupie

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    Dec 24, 2006

    Find a school in the district you worked for and get a teacher to write a reference for you. if you were asked why you were dismissed be truthful. You will probably have to sub for a while but you will build up your reputation again. Terry G.
     
  4. daisyduck123

    daisyduck123 Companion

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    Dec 24, 2006

    I am so sorry that happened to you. In my district, we have a zero tolerance...for the students though - teachers are allowed to have knives....we use them for everything from cutting cake, spreading frosting on cupcakes, & eating our lunches!! Good grief!
     
  5. Kirk

    Kirk Rookie

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    Dec 24, 2006

    Thanks For Replies

    Thank you so much for your encouragement. As you might imagine, I'm just sick about this, and it is viceral. My stomach turns, as I contemplate filling out an application. How do I get in for the interview, after saying the reason for leaving my last job. One thing to my advantage, as regards to moving out of state, I have a house in another state; I really was ambivalent about working here anyway. Nonetheless, the idea of how my application will be received is daunting to say the least. I really appreciate your kind words.
    Kirk
     
  6. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Dec 24, 2006

    This seems so harsh. Many male teachers in my area carry a pocket knife with them at all times and do not hesitate to use it when needed.

    I only filled out a couple of teaching applications but neither asked why I left my last job...so maybe you won't have to deal with this unfortunate situation after all.

    Good luck.
     
  7. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    Dec 25, 2006

    This is where a teachers union might have come in handy. Does the state where you own your home have one? I understand that you must be frustrated and it certainly was unfair to be dismissed on the spot however, was there more to it? Were they looking for a reason? It just seems awfully harsh to be let go just like that for carrying a knife to school. Ws it a boxcutter razor knife, a pocket knife, or an actual knife with a handle?
     
  8. Kirk

    Kirk Rookie

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    Dec 25, 2006

    More To It?

    Thanks but from my vantage there really isn't more to it. Actually, the school kept me there for two additional days. They said that they wanted to see if the school could use discretion. The administration seemed to like what I was doing in a very difficult situation. Now, the class was something else. We had a few very hardened fifth graders. The teacher before me had a nervous breakdown (I'm sure that the stress of the classroom didn't help matters.) I was making good progress with the class; however, I was writing lots of referrals (mostly just saving documentarion,) so some of the children didn't appreciate it.
    I was lecturing one day, whole group, and a child remarked that I had a knife. I made no reply but unattached the clip and let the knife fall deep into pocket. (I have carried this knife for years, and use it all of the time at home.) That day I determined to not bring it to school. The weekend came and I used the knife as usual. On Monday, I was running late for school and put on my pants and dashed out the door. I had an uneventful day at school. I didn't realize that I had the knife, as it was not clipped to my pants (always clip it.) At the end of the day, I was called to the principals office. She asked if I had a knife. I replied, "no!" I was so happy that I determined not to bring it. I was eager to prove it (stupid.) I reached into my pocket and felt the knife. I then changed my repsonse to affrimative; I indeed had the knife. I know with certainty that the knife never came out of my pocket. Truly, I didn't know that the matter was serious. The principal said that eight children had complained about my having a knife, so I think that the principal was protecting herself. I didn't even know that I had broken district policy. I also believe that only one child actually saw the clip the week before. One teacher who was in my classroom for a couple of hours daily offered to write me a letter of recommendation, but I was at the school for only a couple of weeks.
    As far as union goes. Being a sub, the union said thay could not even offer advice. I have heard of a regular teacher being removed from a school (maybe fired) for having a knife on his desk. I am considering going to the media to see if someone wants to do something with the story.
     
  9. CanadianTeacher

    CanadianTeacher Groupie

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    Dec 27, 2006

    Kirk,

    Sorry to hear about your situation. Since aside from the knife situation, you were basically doing good in your class and at the school, is it possible for you to have a meeting with the principal to discuss things. Could you go above your principal's head and explain your situation. Honestly, I think that sometimes these no tolerance rules are ridiculous. Okay, no tolerance for actual behaviour, aggression, etc..., but for just having a knife in your pocket that you had never taken out?? Insane! Do you have teachers at the school who would be willing to speak for you? I think I would give going to the media some serious consideration. People need to know how ridiculously to the extreme some people take things. I hope it all works out for you.
     
  10. Kirk

    Kirk Rookie

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    Dec 27, 2006

    Very Stressed & Thanks

    I want to thank everyone for their support and trying to offer help.
    Indeed, My principal kept me on the job for two additional days, then I saw the director of substitute services (who seemed resonable), but she took it to her boss and they said that they cannot make exceptions. I just recieved the dismissal letter. Hey, one teacher who was in my room for a couple of hours per day offered, without prompting, to say I did an outstanding job "to anyone at anytime." I will certainly request a letter from him. I just went to fill an application in the place where I want to go, but they asked, "Why did you leave your last job," and they had a box to check for "Please do not contact this employer."
    Two problems exist:
    1) The application site is used by many districts in my area, so if I answer in a way that is unacceptable it will hurt my application with many districts.
    2) How do I answer?
    Kirk
     
  11. CanadianTeacher

    CanadianTeacher Groupie

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    Dec 27, 2006

    I hate so say this, but I can because I am a woman.....


    I notice that your superiors, the ones who decided to dismiss you and offer 'no exceptions' are women. It seems that these things always get taken to extremes where women are involved. Men seem to be so much more diplomatic and sensible when in power. I know it doesn't apply to all cases, but it happens all too often. Don't flame me for this, I AM a woman and I would much rather work with and for a man, anyday!
     
  12. Kirk

    Kirk Rookie

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    Dec 27, 2006

    You have noted correctly. The entire chain happens to be women, none of whom share my cultural background of using knives for everything from opeinging mail, cutting newspaperarticles, opening packages for my wife's business, opening medicine, cutting fruit, etc.
     
  13. Neophyte

    Neophyte Rookie

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    Jan 4, 2007

    A meager suggestion?

    Wow, what a truly terrible situation, Kirk. I am not very experienced with schools or districts, but I hope you don't mind if I give you a small suggestion. Can you speak with the principal about simply changing the record of your dismissal to be "without cause"?

    Depending on your relationship with the principal, it seems like it couldn't hurt. You might be surprised by what you can achieve with a candid conversation. Tug at her heart strings by explaining your love for teaching, and your concern that this incident would effectively foreclose your career. If your principal agrees that you were a fantastic sub (perhaps she can speak with a few of the teachers who know you?), she might be willing to oblige. Its not too much skin off her nose (after all, you'll still be gone), but your future would be preserved.

    And if it turns out that she is a punctilious bitch with a heart of cold stone, you won't have lost anything! Best of luck.
     
  14. Kirk

    Kirk Rookie

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    Jan 7, 2007

    Principal is Dead End

    Thanks for suggestion. The principal reported to the district, then the district did the deed. I am already coming to terms with the move out of state. Actually, I can manage the dislocation better than most might. I like where I am going pretty well, likely better than here. I am from near the area and we have a tiny condo waiting. It will be tough, and I will have a few more classes to take to get credentialled up. I can come back in one year. The whole situation seems so unnecessary. This move was not in the plan, and my wife is upset. I have to say she is taking it so well though; that is why I love her. I can't imagine any woman taking it so well. Anyway, I may be happier where I'm going. I'll need some luck. Certainly, the pinheads at the district are losing a contientious and competent employee. I just don't know what to say. I am just about beyond any effort to stay here.
    Kirk
     
  15. CanadianTeacher

    CanadianTeacher Groupie

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    Jan 7, 2007

    Well, Kirk...you just never know what great FORTUNE this MISfortune will bring you. In my experience, the worst of times have always been a gateway to something much, much better.

    Awesome for you that your wife is being so supportive. That makes all the difference in times like these.

    Good luck to you.
     
  16. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    Jan 7, 2007

    I agree with you 100% Canadian Teacher.
    Good luck, Kirk! This whole situation seems so stupid. What happened to common sense?
     
  17. JHenry

    JHenry Rookie

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    Jan 7, 2007

    My mother went through a somewhat similar situation-- in that it involved misuse of the "zero tolerance policy".

    One day students brought candy, sweet tarts, from another classroom. They had gotten the candy from another teacher's desk. My mom did not know that they had candy until she noticed that a boy had crushed up the candy and made a mess. She scolded the boy and wiped the candy away.

    Later some kids reported to the principal that the boy was pretending to snort the candy (mom did not observe any such behavior).

    The kid was suspended and mom was fired due to their zero tolerance drug policy. The dismissal letter cited that the kid had "imitated" drug use. The principal said mom should have reported the incident to her. Mom thought it was a non-issue as she thought the kid was just playing with candy.

    Mom was devastated. This was a private Christian school and the principal was a female as was most of the faculty.

    The school was having other problems as a kindergarten teacher had left a kid alone in a locked classroom at lunch time. The kid defecated on himself and hid the feces. Later after it was found the teacher made the kid clean it up himself and encouraged the other kids to shame him. The kids dad is a prominent lawyer in town and he threatened to sue.

    Mom was very upset that she was fired and the kindergarten teacher was not. Also after reviewing the Policy and Procedures Handbook the drug policy said nothing about imitation. She thought about a lawsuit but decided not to.

    It is very sad when zero tolerance policies are misused and abused to hurt decent people and their ability to earn a living.

    Around here most men carry pocket knives. I know some of my male teacher's carried pocket knives.

    People should be allowed to make innocent mistakes for crying out loud.
     
  18. Kirk

    Kirk Rookie

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    Jan 8, 2007

    Amazing Story

    Thanks for your mother's story. It makes me feel somehow better that someone can empathize. I am coming to terms with the situation. Was your mother a substitute teacher also?
    Kirk
     
  19. teresaglass

    teresaglass Groupie

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    Mar 7, 2007

    Kirk
    Could you tell us how you are doing and how your move is going? You might apply for subbing with Kelly Educational Staffing. Just google them on the Internet or contact your nearest Kelly Services Office. Hope you are doing well. I am applying for TA jobs. You might consider that too. Terry G.
     
  20. Kirk

    Kirk Rookie

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    Mar 8, 2007

    Floundering

    Thanks you so much for asking about me. I have moved to a new state. Well, the job applications do ask about ever being fired from a district. I filled out one application for a district that was seeking applications and they denied me an interview. I have not yet summoned the courage to apply to another district. I am looking for other employment because I need something to give me benefits now. Getting fully licensed in this state will take at least a year, but I don't know if it is worth my time and I need benefits and a livable wage. I wish that I had good news to report, but I fear that this will be long in coming. KIRK
     
  21. teresaglass

    teresaglass Groupie

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    Mar 8, 2007

    Sorry to hear about the news. You might try other districts and Kelly Educational Staffing. I cannot blame you for seeking other employment. What about private schools? They might hire you. I am sure Kelly Educational Staffing will and you can work at other Kelly Services jobs. Good luck!
     

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