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7 Teachers Quit to Protest Firing of Colleague

Ohanian Comment: I didn't even think of "safety" as the issue--until I got to the end of the article. How about human dignity? It's hard to conceive of an educator assigning punishment resembling that of prison chain gangs.

Kudos to colleagues who stood by a teacher who did the right thing.

EAST LYNNE, Mo. -- Seven of 10 classroom teachers in a tiny school district resigned after a colleague was fired for helping an 11-year-old girl who was left alone in a playground to pick up rocks as punishment.

The fourth-grader in the East Lynne School District in Cass County was assigned the task last September for refusing to do her schoolwork, but she was unsupervised except for a security camera. The playground was near a road but inside a fence.

Objected to girl's punishment

The fired teacher, Christa Price, went to the principal -- who is also the district superintendent -- and asked him to reconsider the punishment, but he wouldn't. So on her free period, Price helped the girl pick up rocks. Other teachers watched the girl the next day.

At contract time in March, Supt. Dan Doerhoff recommended firing Price, a popular teacher with good performance evaluations, for insubordination. Seven other teachers chose not to return their contracts.

''If a teacher who advocates on behalf of safety of a student is not fit to be a teacher at East Lynne or anywhere in Missouri according to this administration, then none of us are fit to teach at East Lynne,'' the teachers who resigned said Tuesday in a statement.

One of the teachers who resigned, Jenny Neemann, said having a security camera on the area where the girl worked wasn't enough.

''Somebody could have nabbed her in 10 seconds,'' she said.

Doerhoff has since dropped the punishment of picking up rocks because of the uproar.

The Kansas City Star couldn't resist this headline: Penalty leads to rockslide of protest. But they also picked up a good quote:

Ted Feinberg, assistant executive director of the National Association of School Psychologists, questioned Doerhoff's decision to have elementary pupils pick up rocks.

“Is he a feudal lord building a pyramid?” Feinberg asked from his office in Bethesda, Md. “School discipline is not the same as hard labor in prison.

“School discipline needs to have an educational purpose. What was he teaching this girl — how to pick up rocks? This would only cause frustration, anger, embarrassment and more oppositional behavior.”

Here's an editorial from the Springfield, Missouri News-Leader.

Bad lesson: Vindictive bureaucrat fires compassionate teacher

Missouri school districts in search of a teacher who really cares about kids should rush to hire Christa Price.

She's the teacher fired by the full-of-himself superintendent/principal of the tiny East Lynne school district south of Kansas City. The superintendent, Dan Doerhoff, had disciplined a fourth-grader by making her pick up rocks near a road in front of the school.

Price thought that was dangerous and expressed her concerns to Doerhoff, who shrugged them off. On her next free period, Price joined the girl. The next day, other teachers went out.

These acts of compassion were just too much for Doerhoff. He recommended the school board fire Price, and then refused to sign a certification renewal for her to get another teaching job. Seven of the remaining nine teachers then quit in solidarity with her.

The East Lynne board ought to consider what kind of a bargain it has when a beloved teacher who cares about kids is fired and a vindictive bureaucrat remains. It doesn't strike us as a recipe for quality education.

But in the meantime, plenty of other schools have been presented with a great opportunity. The state will find a way to restore Price's certification. School districts should grab her while she's available.

— Associated Press & editorial
Chicago Sun-Times and Springfield News-Leader





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