Teacher suspended for telling student “Go back to Mexico”
Last week I expressed outrage over the Virginia State Legislature’s attempt to do away with continuing contract in favor of 3 year contracts. This story is a good reason why all veteran teachers deserve due process and protection from the politics of a school system.
From the Huffington Post:
Looks like this two-time “Teacher of the Year” will not be in the running to win the esteemed honor this year because of her derogatory comment to a Hispanic student: “Go back to Mexico.”
Instead, 63-year-old Texas math teacher Shirley Bunn is fighting to keep her job.
Bunn made the comment on Sept. 30 while distributing Title 1 forms to her eighth grade students at Barnett Junior High School. Dallas-Fort Worth’s Fox 4 reports that a disruptive student requested a Spanish-language version of the form, saying, “I’m Mexican. I’m Mexican.”
According to public record, Bunn attempted to tell the student that he could retrieve forms translated into Spanish from the main office, but the student continued to repeat “I’m Mexican.”
Bunn quickly responded, “[Then] go back to Mexico.”
The school board placed Bunn on paid leave following the incident, until an Independent Hearing Examiner could review the case.
Late Wednesday, the examiner, Jess Rickman III, recommended that the school board allow Bunn to return to her post. In his 23-page opinion, Rickman determined that the district did not provide sufficient grounds for termination.
“Under the circumstances when taken in the context of the moment and the lack of intent for ‘Go back to Mexico’ to be a racially or nationality-based pejorative remark, I find it was not a remark of an egregious nature,” Rickman said, Fox 4 reports.
Since Rickman’s opinion is just a recommendation, the school board could still reject it and permanently terminate Bunn, who has taught at Barnett since 1999.
“It was almost instantaneous. I thought, ‘God, I don’t believe that came out of my mouth,’” Bunn told The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
“It was a very, very hard week, the end of six weeks. It was late in the day. It was a Friday. We were on the third day of the first curriculum assessment and I knew it wasn’t going well. It was just an extremely bad day,” Bunn said.
The school board is expected to decide Bunn’s fate before next month.
Obviously the 2 time Teacher of the Year was at the end of her rope. It sounds life frustration took over when dealing with a disruptive student. Granted, the incident happened in Texas. However, something like that could easily happen here in Virginia if most recourse for teachers and principals is stripped away by the legislature.
Obviously there was a better way to corral the disruptive student. Ms. Bunn freely admits she misspoke. However, at what point do disruptive student incidents like this one get to crater a person’s reputation and career?
Ms. Bunn should be reinstated. Meanwhile, the district is paying an excellent teacher who wants to be in the classroom to collect a pay check for doing nothing. Incidents like this happen every day. Perhaps some of our less than supportive contributors might want to take another glance at the flip side of their own argument.