The Teachers' Scrounge

News and comments from the world of public education. A middle school math teacher shared what he learned today.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Four-Minute Phone Call Costs Teacher $22,000

Asbury Park, New Jersey has a policy of no personal phone calls in the classroom. They take this policy pretty seriously in Asbury Park. A high school teacher who made a cell phone call while she was watching someone else's class... suspended without pay for 120 days. It cost her $22,000 in lost pay.

So Ms. Getty teaches English and Performing Arts. Last year she was covering another teacher's class for 45 minutes. She made a call on her cell phone. During the call, a couple of kids begin dancing, and another kids begins videotaping the dancing. The video gets posted on YouTube. Ms. Getty gets suspended while the district investigates. The district determines that 120-day suspension without pay is appropriate, and Ms. Getty can return to her teaching duties when the suspension is over.

I know, I know, you're asking, "Was this 'dancing' really kids slamming each other around the room in a near-riot that the teacher ignored?" Well, not based on the video clips I've been able to find. It was two kiddos dancing in an open area in front of the teacher desk. The only thing that bothered me was a leap-frog move they did at one point. And yes, the teacher was ignoring the dancing, but the kids weren't moving desks or anything. And she was covering someone else's class. She was playing substitute teacher.

So who was she talking to? Well, veteran teachers (especially those from small districts) will recognize some politics here. She was calling the ex-superintendent. She says she was calling him to ask how she could best help a particular student. It seems Asbury Park had a new superintendent at the time of the incident. Had a different interim superintendent at the time the news reports were written. And has another superintendent taking over as I type this. Sounds to me like Ms. Getty is pretty close to the old superintendent, which means someone in the replacement administration probably didn't mind putting her on the hot seat.

Now you probably want to see the YouTube video, right? Well, the video has a soundtrack added to it, and the lyrics to the song (added later) are horribly "not safe." You can search for yourself, but here are a couple of still images from the video (I slightly blurred the faces). I was actually entertained by the dancing, which is really rare for me. By the way, we only see four students in the video (and someone's holding the camera). And none of the students were disciplined for any related actions -- dancing in class, posting on YouTube, etc.

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