Paterson teacher suspended for Facebook post should be fired, judge rules
// The following article is about a woman who lost her job over a facebook comment. Is this what the world is coming to? Anyone who went to school in the 80s and earlier I’m sure has heard worse in schools, and all of those people have turned out to be successful adults. In the last twenty years you have lost the ability to even call out someones name that is misbehaving in a classroom because it will bruise their self-esteem. The rules and scrutiny that is on teachers now a days is unreal, before you say she deserved it remember, you have never been in front of a classroom, and if you have; have you never had a bad day?
// Read the article below:
The Paterson teacher who called her first-grade students “future criminals” in a Facebook post should lose her tenured job, an administrative law judge has ruled.
In a decision made public Tuesday, Judge Ellen Bass said Jennifer O’Brien’s conduct would be “inexcusable” in any district, but especially in a city burdened by poverty and violence.
“O’Brien has demonstrated a complete lack of sensitivity to the world in which her students live,” the judge wrote. “The sentiment that a 6-year-old will not rise above the criminal element that surrounds him cuts right to the bone.”
Bass also noted that O’Brien, who lives in Elmwood Park, did not express genuine remorse at an August hearing in Newark.
“I came away with the impression that O’Brien remained somewhat befuddled by the commotion she had created,” the judge wrote.
Bass said that with sensitivity training, O’Brien — a Paterson teacher since 1998 — could return to a public school classroom, but not in Paterson, due to her damaged relationship with the community.
The judge also found that the district’s need to efficiently operate its schools outweighed O’Brien’s right to free speech.
“In a public education setting, thoughtless words can destroy the partnership between home and school that is essential to the mission of the schools,” she wrote.
The state education commissioner has 45 days to accept, reject or modify the judge’s recommendations.
O’Brien’s lawyer, Nancy Oxfeld, said she would appeal to the commissioner to let O’Brien keep her job. Oxfeld said O’Brien’s words had been misinterpreted and that she never thought her students would become criminals. The teacher was concerned about a few students’ behavior and believed they needed help, the lawyer said.
“The judge found Ms. O’Brien had somehow ruined her relationship with the Paterson community such that she could never go back to teach there,” Oxfeld said. “There were a few incidents and a lot of news trucks for one day. We don’t think there would be any problem at all.”
O’Brien could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. At her hearing, she said she wrote the post in exasperation because six or seven unruly students kept disrupting her lessons, and one boy had hit her.
Paterson district spokeswoman Terry Corallo said the district welcomed the judge’s ruling.
“Providing for a safe and caring environment at all of our schools is one of this district’s top priorities,” she said. “This particular case required immediate action and we are pleased with the judge’s decision.”
In March, O’Brien posted to about 300 friends that “i’m not a teacher — i’m a warden for future criminals.” The post shot through the Internet and grabbed headlines nationwide.