Why Teacher Discipline is Necessary Research Paper

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Teacher Employment/Discipline Scenario


Paul Swanson has been advised that he needs to take anger management to control his temper. He has declined and now a worst possible scenario has occurred: the teacher has assaulted a student. Though an unfortunate chain reaction of events precipitated the assault, it is possible that the whole thing could have been avoided had Mr. Swanson handled himself with more propriety. The student Alicia Fernandez is not without fault and conducted herself in a manner unsuitable for a student in this school and her provocative behavior should not go unaddressed. However, Mr. Swanson should have the self-possession required of a tenured teacher to deal with provocative behavior from students in a more dignified manner. This paper will discuss the immediate action that should be taken, any reporting requirements that have been triggered, personnel policies that apply, Illinois laws that apply to the situation, and recommendations for going forward.

Immediate Action

Immediate action should be taken with regard to the situation that unfolded in Mr. Swanson’s classroom. Both the student and the teacher share a degree of blame. The student should not have been provoking the teacher by eating in the class—which is against school policy and is punished by 2 demerits (Noble Staff Handbook, 2018, p. 8), rudely tossing her garbage, laughing at him when it hit him and recording his reaction on her phone as though he were there solely for her amusement. Visible use of a cell phone is punished with 4 demerits and confiscation of the device (Noble Staff Handbook, 2018, p. 9). She should not have erupted vocally (which Mr. Swanson believed to be foul language in Spanish), which is punishable by 1 demerit (Noble Staff Handbook, 2018, p. 9) when he attempted to take her phone; and her overall disruptive behavior is punishable with 1 demerit, as she clearly triggered Mr. Swanson and disrupted the class (Noble Staff Handbook, 2018, p. 9). For her behavior, and the number of demerits her conduct warranted, she should receive appropriate punishment. That does not excuse Mr. Swanson’s behavior. He lost his temper with a student, destroyed her personal property in a rash and impulsive burst of anger (though it was accidental, he should have made an attempt to confiscate the device in a calmer and more controlled manner), and then physically assaulted her by shoving her against a desk, which caused her bodily harm. That is inexcusable behavior for a professional educator.

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For his behavior, he will be required to take a leave of absence, undergo psychiatric evaluation, and enroll in an anger management class before he is permitted to return to his teaching duties.

Mandated Reporting Requirements

While Mr. Swanson did not intend to physically harm Alicia or to cause her to trip and fall and lose a tooth, he did physically shove her, which is what resulted in her harm. Moreover, it was not an accidental shove but rather the result of Mr. Swanson’s uncontrolled passions, and any use of force by a teacher towards a student, especially a 7th grader, has to be taken extremely seriously. Whether Mr. Swanson’s actions can be categorized as an accident will be up to the determination of the Dean of Students, once a full review has been conducted. What is known, however, is that Mr. Swanson did shove the child—and that means a mandatory reporting requirement has been triggered. According to the Noble Staff Handbook (2018), the following steps must be taken with regard to Mr. Swanson’s conduct:

· Notify Dean of Students (or campus equivalent) of the situation,

· Call the DCFS hotline at (800) 25-ABUSE, and

· Complete an incident report

The principal is also required to alert the campus social worker. Mr. Swanson’s behavior clearly falls within the scope of physical abuse: “Physical abuse is defined as occurring when a parent or person responsible for the child’s welfare inflicts, causes to be inflicted, or allows to be inflicted upon such child physical injury, by other than accidental means… Common injuries include bruises, human bite marks, bone fractures, and burns. Physical abuse also occurs when the caregiver or parent ‘creates a substantial risk of physical injury’ by shaking, throwing, choking, smothering, or pushing the child into fixed objects” (Noble Staff Handbook, 2018, p. 16). As Mr. Swanson is a teacher at the school, he serves in….....

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Daggett, L. M. (2013). Reasonable supervision in the city: Enhancing the safety of students with disabilities in urban (and other) schools. Fordham Urb. LJ, 41, 499.

Daggett, L. M. (2014). Reasonable supervision of special students: The impact of disability on school liability for student injury. JL & Educ., 43, 303.

Noble Staff Handbook. (2018). Educational & Employment Policies And Practices Version Fy 19.1.

Rado, D. & Gutowski, C. (2013). Illinois system fails to protect students from abuse. Retrieved from https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-met-teachers-revoked-20130825-story.html

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