Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Teacher Discipline: Judgment By Tribunal

Did the punishment of this Carrollton, Georgia high school teacher fit the crime?
A high school teacher who was accused of humiliating two black students while trying to make a point about race and education will be suspended for one month without pay.

The Carrollton Board of Education voted Monday night to accept a recommendation made by a tribunal that heard the case of Mark McCormick, who has taught at Carrollton High School for almost 10 years.

The tribunal, consisting of current and former educators from outside the city schools and members of the State Bar of Georgia, found that McCormick "did engage in certain unprofessional acts ..."

McCormick failed to understand the effect of his questions on students he singled out in lectures on the civil rights era of American history, the tribunal said. The teacher asked one 10th grader if other black students gave her a hard time for being in an advanced class, or accused her of "trying to be white."

He prefaced his questions by stating that "it was not his intent to make her feel uncomfortable or to embarrass her in any way and that, if any of his questions made her uncomfortable, she should tell him and he would cease the questioning," according to the tribunal report.
Here in Southern California, there are no such tribunals empowered to judge teachers or recommend consequences. The governing board of the teacher's school district holds a hearing, which may be open or closed at the option of the teacher concerned.
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