Here is the tale of a teacher who understands the duty to confront-–and not to consent to being a victim from Washington Post local columnist Jay Mathews latest:
Linda Johnson, a retired California teacher, told me what happened…
“About 10 years ago, my student teacher and I were walking my first-graders to the computer lab,” she said. “One little boy started to yell and jump around, so I asked him to go back to the room with the student teacher. In a few minutes, the boy’s father came along to check his son out for a dental appointment. When he saw the boy crying, he went ballistic and came running after me. He cornered me at the entrance to the computer room and screamed at me in a menacing way in front of my students. He waved his arm at me in a threatening way.”
He warned her never to do it again. It looked like the man was going to hit her. “I was very frightened for my students and was careful not to provoke him further,” Johnson said.
Fifteen minutes later, after school was dismissed, she went to the principal’s office and found the father reporting her to the vice principal. [Johnson] screamed at the man: “If you ever threaten me in front of my class again, I’ll go to the police.”
…The next day, as Johnson expected, she was called into the principal’s office. The vice principal also was there. They told her that they were putting a letter in her file for screaming at the man. “Excuse me,” she said. “I am the victim, and I will write the letter. I am also going to file a report with the police.” When the principal, not expecting this, tried to retract what he said, she walked out of the office and went straight to police headquarters. She signed a complaint against the father, accusing him of “disturbing school.”
She sent a letter of complaint about the way she was treated to the superintendent, the teachers union president, the principal, the vice principal and every member of the school board. She asked for letters of apology within 30 days. By the time the police case came up, she thought she might have been too hard on the father and told the court that she didn’t think he realized he was committing a misdemeanor.“Don’t worry about that,” the court commissioner said. “He knows his felonies from his misdemeanors.” The father was indeed a felon. …The school district banned the father from the school and transferred his children to another campus…
Teachers who have had such experiences will understand how good Johnson felt when the two administrators gave her their letters of apology.