Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Darwin Award In Education: Ben Clevenger

Today's Darwin Award in Education (backstory here) goes to the Michigan high school social studies teacher who lost threw away his career by accompanying a large group students to Europe where a number of them became drunk and disorderly: (emphasis ours)
The Rochester Hills Community Schools fired a teacher this week who took students on a spring break trip to Europe, where some engaged in heavy drinking.

The April trip to Italy and Greece included four staff members from Stoney Creek High School and more than 80 students. The district fired Ben Clevenger, 24, a social studies teacher who organized the trip, which was not sponsored by the district.

School staff must adhere to the "highest level of professional conduct" in ensuring the safety and well-being of students, district spokeswoman Debbi Hartman said in a statement Monday.

"This expectation is held whenever an employee is engaged in an activity that involves students, regardless of whether or not that activity is school- or district-sponsored."

The Board of Education must approve any staff firing. The board is scheduled to take up the issue at its June 26 meeting, Hartman said.

Clevenger said Tuesday he had received his termination letter Monday. The letter said he was being fired for "professional misconduct."

"I'm looking at my options with my union," Clevenger said.

He declined to comment further. But he said June 1 that alcohol use became an issue early on in Italy, where the legal drinking age is 16.

On the first night there, one student threw a beer bottle from the roof of the hotel the group was staying in, shattering a car windshield. On the fourth night, Clevenger said he found several students drinking at a bar at 2 a.m. and escorted them to the hotel.

Concerned about the students' safety outside the hotel, Clevenger said he told the teens that he didn't want them drinking, but if they were going to, they should do it in their hotel rooms.

Clevenger resigned in May, but he said that resignation was forced. He said June 1 he would rescind his resignation.

On Monday, the district's human resources director fired Clevenger, who taught for two years and does not have tenure. Untenured teachers can be fired any time, for any reason.

Clevenger has 10 days to appeal the termination.
We continue to be puzzled by educators who self-terminate their careers and toss-away years of formal education and training by doing bone-headed things like this...
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