Former cooperating teacher broke many laws. Should I report?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by guest000, Sep 4, 2014.

  1. guest000

    guest000 New Member

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    Sep 4, 2014

    I recently graduatead with a teaching degree after completing a year long internship. I've done a lot of social justice and youth advocacy work and wanted to get a teaching degree to support low income students and families as well as possibly influence schools into better supporting their struggling students through spreading cultural awareness and the many struggles disadvantaged family and youth have.

    Unfortunately, my student teaching experience was the single worst experience of my life. The school I was at was trying to work with a changing demographic (I should also note I was one of two minority student teachers in a school with all white staff). I was appalled at the discrimination, racism, and derogatory comments teachers made about parents and their students. I also saw favoritism in grading for families who my cooperating teacher liked more. I saw favorite students recommended for gifted programs even though there were minority students who performed better on assessments.

    My cooperating teacher was also only interested in having me work for him to take over his classroom and did not once provide feedback. He would trash talk other teachers to me and speak negatively about students to other kids on a regular basis. There were multiple times he wasn't in the building altogether and would go home early for doctor's appointments, to get lunch, fix his plumbing (no joke), etc. The worst was when he was 50 minutes late to school on a testing day. This was very much illegal but I couldn't force him to be at the school. He once even asked me to look at confidential student teacher applications for the next year to let him know who the best pick would be. Then, after completing twice as long a full time teaching experience as required, when discussing the return of teaching responsibilities so I could focus on professional development in other areas, he became hostile, made false accusations, and yelled to the point the kindergarten teacher proximal to us had to close her door. I then faced bullying, harassment, and retaliation from my CT for the rest of the year.

    I have a strong letter of recommendation from my cooperating teacher (which surprised me), but he has neglected to fill out a single reference form in the last 3 months since I graduated even though in emails he states he will do them (each time it's brought up, there is a new excuse for why it's not done). I don't expect, nor do I want, to use him as a reference (beyond possibly the letter) going forward.

    I am ashamed to say I was silent during that time. I had no power, and was worried about putting my graduation in jeopardy. My college was aware of these violations and did nothing. I want to know if I should email my concerns over my cooperating teacher's conduct to the Superintendent. It appalls me to think the school will continue to deny services to those eligible and that my former CT can continue to damage children's education.
     
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  3. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Tricky. His behavior may be more inappropriate than unlawful. Going to the superintendent, in my opinion, may become a he said she said kind of arguement that you can't win. You can, however, make sure that your university hears you loud and clear, which may save future students from having the same experience. Whether or not the university would discuss your complaints with the administration of the school would depend on them. We all hope we will take the moral high ground, but sometimes real life concerns are a factor. Don't beat yourself up, and I would not say anything that might be considered negative unless you want to answer the questions of why now, why not then. This is a case where someone in power has abused that relationship and made you uncomfortable. However, you can be a jerk and not be a law breaking jerk, as we were just lectured on in PD before this school year began. You learned from the experience - more than you wanted, perhaps, but it is a life lesson in how NOT to be a great teacher and even better person. Others may urge you to turn him in, but I question whether that is the choice that I would make for my own son, also a teacher. You have learned about things to never do, the one thing that a bad example does without even knowing it. Sorry for your ordeal, but congrats on the degree.
     
  4. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Sep 4, 2014

    You should also discuss this with your academic adviser for your teaching program. At the very least, this teacher probably should not oversee future candidates from your school.
     
  5. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    What I meant, but said much better! :thanks:
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Sep 4, 2014

    Which specific laws did he break?

    Why were you unable to voice your concerns to your university supervisor?

    Why did you student teach with this guy for twice as long as you needed to?

    When you were talking with this guy, why did he start yelling at you and become hostile?

    I need more information. Barring any actual law-breaking (for which you must have or be able to obtain proof), I would not contact the Sup about this guy. The district could very well decide that you are a problem or at least not worth the risk of hiring, and you could find yourself unable to be considered for hire at this district. That might not seem like a big deal now, but it could matter one day.

    I will add that sometimes people are jerks. There's no law against being a jerk, though.

    Also, gifted programs usually look at more than just assessment scores, just FYI.

     
  7. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    This is what came to my mind when I read the title.
     
  8. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I agree that you should meet with your school and make sure no more student teachers are placed in that classroom (maybe that school if it is as bad as you say.

    I would not approach the district unless you are comfortable burning bridges.
     
  9. guest000

    guest000 New Member

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    Which specific laws did he break?
    I'm unsure if this is 'illegal' but he would frequently leave the school and leave the kids with an unlicensed body (at the time, me). The illegal part would probably be his extreme tardiness on a state assessment day and then signing that their were no discrepancies in how they took the test (students day/schedule was disrupted, began later than their peers, had less time to test). He also would neglect to administer student IEPs (which I believe break special education laws). Than their is the issue of discriminatory treatment of minority students which I believe breaks equal protection laws. I'm not an expert in legal matters, so I don't know what is a broken law and what is simply a broken policy.

    Why were you unable to voice your concerns to your university supervisor?
    I did. Unfortunately, it was after I spoke to someone at the university that I began to face retaliation from the cooperating teacher and the university was afraid to step in because they didn't want to upset him further (their words).

    Why did you student teach with this guy for twice as long as you needed to?
    He insisted he needed the 8 weeks (full time teaching was 3 weeks) to prep a 2 week science curriculum. Personally, I don't believe this claim as he was often on Stumbleupon or managing his personal rental units during this time.

    When you were talking with this guy, why did he start yelling at you and become hostile?
    Honestly, his reaction took me completely by surprise. We were talking, I brought up how I had more than completed the requirements of the internship and would like to explore new experiences (at my supervisors advice) and he began accusing me of being uncommitted to the children and that there was no way he could start teaching with less than 2 weeks warning (which I ended up teaching much of).

    My CT was very good about saying the right things and acting completely differently when left alone. To me, it felt as if the only reason I was there was to do his job as he got paid. Unfortunately, the result of this experience has left me with no desire whatsoever to enter public education. While I want to continue my work with underprivileged families and at risk youth, I no longer believe I can make such changes within our public schools.
     
  10. daisycakes

    daisycakes Companion

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    Nothing you mentioned except leaving you to teach by yourself is illegal. The rest is merely offensive to you. I would not report him because you might need him as a reference, you might look petty, you might look naive/hysterical/too sensitive, etc.

    Everyone breaks IEPs. No teacher with 30 kids can perfectly comply with 5+ IEPs simultaneously all the time. Some people are racist. That is unfortunate, but it is not illegal. You cannot prove in any way that he did or did not recommend kids for gifted programs based on race. There are a number of factors besides test scores.

    I had bad experiences, too. In my first one, she was unsatisfied with me but unwilling to let me go, like your teacher seemed to be. In my second experience, the teacher had no classroom management skills. His kids were terrible to us. He said racist things, too, but what really got me is that one time he punched a kid and stormed out the room and left me there with the class shocked. My university told me to do nothing and I am glad I didn't report him. I didn't need the drama. They never sent him another student teacher and I later learned that, 2 years prior, a student teacher had complained that he threw a desk at a kid and it brought her a ton of grief.

    If you really want to report him (and it sounds like you do) stick to something irrefutable. He left you alone with kids. Do not bring in all the feelings and race and gray area stuff.
     
  11. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Uh... as a former SPED teacher (and father of a 2-year old with an IEP), I don't think I care for the idea that all teachers break IEPs. If I had even a hint that my daughter's IEP wasn't being followed to her detriment, you'd better believe I'd be taking every imaginable legal path needed to fix the problem.
     
  12. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I have a class of 20 with 10 on an IEP. I do my best but it is possible that they have to wait while I work with other students before I can get to them. There are only two of us in the room and I won't let anyone's education suffer, including my regular ed kids. Of my 20, 10 are on IEPs, one 504, and I estimate we'll have at least 2-3 doing RTI this year.
     
  13. Cobalt_Waves

    Cobalt_Waves Rookie

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    Something similar happened to me. I reported the teacher to the faculty of education at my university with the intention of preventing future student teachers being placed with her.

    I would not go further than that unless you witnessed child abuse or something very serious.

    You have my sympathies. My student teaching experience was also the single worst experience of my life. I was never so depressed in my life. It was to the point where I thought about suicide.
     
  14. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    This is exactly my view as well.

    So sorry you had to go through that. For future reference, if a student teacher has a terrible placement, he/she should report this immediately to the college. You pay big bucks for your training and should demand a quality experience.
     
  15. hatima

    hatima Devotee

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    True. But going to the university does not always "fix" things as an undergrad I went to my university and was told, "if we find you a new ct you will not be allowed to graduate. You will not get credit." This was in the first few weeks of the semester.

    But I would be cautious of reporting the unethical behavior.
     
  16. bros

    bros Phenom

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    I wouldn't say that all of that other than leaving the student teaching by themselves is illegal. Some of it is. The rest is unethical.

    It is just impossible to prove.

    And what the teacher did with the IEPs sounds like it could have violated IDEA, but the district would be responsible for that, not the teacher, unless the students also had 504s, then the teacher could be sued directly.
     
  17. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    If the teacher left the students expecting you to teach or at least watch them, well, subs do it all the time, and you have at least that level of education. As for the teaching and test time, that falls under the district being negligent, so speaking to the superintendent will be met with hostility. Most of what you talk about with discrimination may or may not break bias legislation, and you may be able to report that, but chances are it will be addressed by education about what he is doing wrong, not termination. I would have been in contact with my advisor when the time limit was extended, since I don't believe that should be under the teacher's control, but the university's. If I am right about that, then it is the university that let you down. I can't address the issue with IEP's, but I believe you will be hard pressed to prove that he wasn't, in his mind, trying to meet the student's needs. I will say again that he may be a jerk and poor teacher, but I doubt that there are actions that would be punishable under the law. Learn from it and let it go. He isn't the poster child for all teachers or experiences, so don't assume that this is teaching everywhere in all districts. That would be a gross generalization on your part that simply isn't true. You will/would look for a job where none of these things would happen. Furthermore, know that as you get older and wiser, you will learn what battles you can win and which simply fall under bad teacher classification. Without that broader perspective, you may be looking at the situation with blinders on. People do that - they see what they want to see, ignoring what doesn't annoy them or inconvenience them. The student teaching is over, so take a deep breath and figure out what you would do differently and learn from the experience. Stay away from the superintendent or school administration, IMHO.
     
  18. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I agree with those that say that most of what was done was unethical not illegal. I am afraid you will see some of that when you are a teacher too.

    Report this? If you want to let your supervisor from your University know about these things, you could. You have that chance. I had a CT that did worse than what you described. The University banned her from ever having a cooperating teacher again. She was still teaching the rest of the school year. The P didn't remove her. Being a ST, I had as much power as a fruit fly and I knew it. You can report it, but I wouldn't expect a lot to happen.
     
  19. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I agree with this. I think at best you can report it to your university to at least prevent another student teacher being placed with that teacher. The reality is that other teachers and admin are aware of most of what is going on. If he leaves early and comes late, the admin is aware of that. Other teachers working with him are going to be aware of his personality and the way he talks about students (there is nothing illegal about that...it might be disheartening, but it´s not illegal). He didn´t seem to try to hide anything from you, so it´s unlikely that he´s hiding anything from anyone else (in terms of his personality, his views, etc.). Regarding illegal activity, nothing you mentioned is actually illegal, from what I can tell (perhaps being left alone with the students could be illegal, but it depends on what credentials you currently have....did you tell him you legally could not be left alone with them?). I think it´s hard coming from the university into the real teaching world and having to witness the realities...Sadly, there are some adults out there who are not easy to work with, and who might not be the best teachers out there. I bet that´s true for any profession. Hopefully that will give you more motivation to be the best teacher you can be. :)
     

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