Tuesday, May 13, 2008
What The Chancellor's Regulations Really Say About Teacher Corporal Punishment and Verbal Abuse
The Chancellor's Regulations are what all school staff is subject to and violating these regulations can get a teacher in trouble. I have decided to investigate the Chancellor's Regulations on Corporal Punishment (A-420) and Verbal Abuse (A-421). Let's see if these regulations are vague enough that just about all teachers targeted by administrators can be subject to these regulations.
Corporal Punishment- A-420. According to the Chancellor's Regulations, Corporal Punishment is defined as "any act of physical force upon a student for the purpose for punishing that student". While the Chancellor's Regulations do allow for reasonable force against a student. The statement at the end of the regulation is what an administrator can use against a teacher. In bold capital letters it states.
"NO CORPORAL PUNISHMENT SHALL BE INFLICTED IN ANY OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS, NOR PUNISHMENT OF ANY KIND TENDING TO CAUSE EXCESSIVE FEAR OR PHYSICAL OR MENTAL DISTRESS. VIOLATION OF THIS BYLAW SHALL CONSTITUTE GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL".
The key phrase is excessive fear or physical or mental distress. That means if a teacher defends herself from a student attack and restrains him which can cause the violent student to fear the teacher, that teacher can be targeted by the administrator under the Corporal Punishment regulations. Another example of this is a teacher breaks up a fight and one student claims the teacher hurt him when breaking up the fight. Guess what the administrator can do? Right charge the teacher under the Corporal Punishment regulations. Finally, a teacher doesn't have to even touch the student. He just needs to threaten the student with "you are headed for jail, the way you act" That can meet the mental distress requirement of the Corporal Punishment regulations. Seems unreal? Well if you don't believe it see for yourself. The Corporal Punishment regulations can be found here.
Verbal Abuse - A-421.
Verbal abuse is not corporal punishment but includes any language that tends to cause fear or physical or mental distress of a student. However, here again is the nasty catchall phrase.
"Nothing in this regulation, however, prevents a supervisor from counseling or disciplining an employee for inappropriate speech or conduct that is not otherwise in violation of this regulation".
What does the Verbal Abuse regulation mean? To me it can mean anything the administrator wants it to be. Resulting in a teacher getting a "U" rating and even removal to the "rubber room" while waiting for the 3020-a charges. You still don't believe it? Well the Verbal Abuse regulations can be found here.
My question is why did the UFT allow both these statements to exist? These statements gives administrators great power to discipline teachers that they don't like. What stops an administrator from abusing his or her power to punish a teacher? Nothing, nothing at all.