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Fan Kick Furor

Oct 12, 2017 by

Remembrances of Things Past and Ulysses are books that are thicker than big city phone directories. But they are slender volumes in comparison with dossiers compiled by the Department of Education when they have targeted a teacher for punishment and are sniffing the blood trail of a wounded career.

Last week a dance teacher observed around 10 male students videotaping a performance by cheerleaders in which they wore extremely abbreviated and allegedly intimate revealing underwear. The twenty-year veteran teacher and alumnus of the New York City Ballet, expressed to students and the principal that she felt such exposure, by some reports including the most private parts of the body, was inappropriate.

The messenger seemingly bothered the principal more than the message, Clearly the tastefully-worded complaint didn’t sit well with the principal. She must have thought the teacher’s observation was flagrantly out of order and the cheerleaders’ perhaps accidental high kick not so flagrant, because the school leader referred the matter to the Department of Education  for disciplinary action against the teacher.

The principal had seen the performance herself and did not notice the same picturesque imagery as the teacher, although she acknowledged that “some crotches were facing the audience” of fellow students and parents.

The teacher’s version was corroborated by Darius Williams, an ex-dancer and choreographer with the world-famous and artistically progressive Alvin Ailey Dance Company. He was in the audience and witnessed the cheerleader’s “vulgar” display.

This case led to a trial that generated a 1000-page transcript and a 42-page ruling from a hearing officer who was paid almost $3000 per hour.

Your tax dollars at work.

The teacher was in danger of termination for factually notifying her superiors of the alleged visibility of students’ genitals during a performance attended by peers,parents and staff. Some students were neither well-pleased nor reticent to react. One is quoted as referring to the teacher as “some f–g dumb ass lady talking s–t” and by another critic as one who “think she some high and mighty bitch.”

I doubt there will be any repercussions for such indelicate speech as it would constitute an infringement of freedom of expression. Such freedom doesn’t even apply in watered down form, to classroom teachers.

How did this trial turn out?  The teacher lucked out.

The hearing officer, uncommonly given to common sense and mercifully sensible, did not agree with the Department of Education that pointing out the indecorous suggestiveness of the cheerleader’s “fan kick” warranted the total  destruction of the teacher’s career.
The DOE had done its best to be at its worst, but this time they failed and that was a blessing for decency. They had been so rapacious in their pursuit of this teacher’s livelihood that they even resurrected an ancient infraction that she had allegedly committed at a prior school: coming late to a class when the school’s bell system was broken.

What are some lessons learned from this tale?  Poor judgment and venal motivation of a “school leader”, lack of enforcement of boundaries of student behavior, profligate persecutions by the DOE,  show that teachers who stand up for what is right might as well be doing their own “fan kick” on a bed of quicksand.

What needs to be done to correct the system and heal its true victims?

A thousand pages wouldn’t begin to answer that question!

Ron Isaac

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