DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A Detroit Public Schools teacher fired after she used a broomstick to try to break up a violent fight between two teenage boys is apparently getting ready to appeal her termination.
Cell phone video shows the boys slugging it out in a Pershing High School ninth-grade classroom, knocking over desks as classmates scream in horror. The video also shows the teacher – who is smaller than both boys – hitting one across his back with a broom in an attempt to stop the altercation.
The student backs off after being hit with the broom, but the other student runs back towards him and the fight continues. The fight, which lasted over a minute, eventually ended when another classmate stepped in and separated the boys.
Teachers have two-way radios they use to call security in cases like this, but the teacher involved said her radio was not working at the time.
Education Achievement Authority spokeswoman Chrystal Wilson said the district recommended the teacher’s firing to its board after the incident, which took place on April 30. The teacher, who was hired in January, apparently violated the corporal punishment provision under the Michigan school code by striking the child with a broom.
Wilson said the teacher, who was not publicly identified, can appeal her immediate termination and go before the board when it meets in June — and that’s apparently what she plans to do. According to reports, the woman has hired an attorney in an attempt to get her job back.
The boys involved in the fight, ages 15 and 16, received suspensions.
People from all over the region, as well as local organizations, are voicing support for the teacher, and a petition has even been set up on Change.org to help get her job back.
“This teacher was trying to minimize the impact of a very violent encounter even though she had no access to security or a working walkie-talkie. She should be reinstated and the school administration should be held accountable for proposing concrete solutions to deal with violence,” David Alexander Bullock, Change Agent Consortium national spokesperson, said in a statement.
Pershing High School is run by the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan — a fairly new statewide school system that has assumed operation of the lowest five percent of performing schools in the state that did not achieve satisfactory results on a redesign plan or that are under an emergency manager.
Teachers at EAA schools do not have union representation, but Detroit Teachers Union President Keith Johnson wants to change that.
“We’re turning our sights onto the EAA schools, especially when you look at this incident at Pershing High School that resulted in the teacher getting terminated for trying to break up a fight,” Johnson told WWJ’s Vickie Thomas. “Granted, she may not have used the most proper method, but to terminate her for that was extreme. But it does give an indication as to why having a union to represent you and protect your due process rights is important.”
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