Industry Focus

School Teacher Expelled

You have to wonder what is happening on school campuses these days. Why some students act the way they do; why some turn to violence.

Over the years there has been one tragic campus incident report after another: Someone entering a school campus, going into a classroom and causing harm and destruction. To put it bluntly, young people have been killed for no reason.

There is an enormous focus on the safety and security of the campus, the students, staff and teachers. Then, something like this happens:

In Nevada (Nuh-VA-duh), Texas, sits Community Independent School District (CISD). The district is located in the southeast portion of Collin County, and is about 30 miles northeast of Dallas. The growth of this area has been substantial over the past few years. CISD comprises the towns of Copeville, Josephine, Lavon and Nevada, and understandably, citizens take great pride in their schools.

At McClendon Elementary School, a teacher was suspended after locking a student out of her classroom that was allegedly threatening to kill her. Students in the classroom, said the student outside “kept banging on the door and yelling at us. I was worried but I wasn’t crying, most of the kids were crying.”

For locking the classroom door, Fourth Grade teacher Judy Stough was suspended.

Mike Sheperd, CISD school board president, said this after refusing the opportunity for an interview. “The safety of our staff and students remains a priority and please understand that it is our practice to maintain confidentially in matters regarding CISD staff and students.” I get the safety concept quite well, and, of course, there should be some degree of confidentiality. However, if the outcome were different, we would all know what really happened by now, and where the weak link is.

I would suggest that Judy Stough is a very strong link, and was protecting her students. Apparently, the young man standing outside the classroom has a history of causing problems, and in this case, banging on the classroom door, and shouting the he was “going to [expletive] kill,’ the teacher doesn’t set very well for me.

Critics of locking the door said the teacher should have walked the student down to the office to visit with administrators. I think that if someone threatens to kill you, you don’t walk them down to the office. You call for help, which is what Stough did, but no one in the office picked up the phone.

Parents in the school district have praised Stough for protecting her students from this boy. School officials apparently disagreed because a suspension was handed out pretty quickly for what school officials said was “escalating the incident” when her students said quite the opposite.

Students interviewed on local television said the teacher handled the situation exactly how she should have handled it. The next day, some parents kept their children home, and they will stay at home until the teacher is reinstated and the problem student is removed. Of course, holding a student from school probably isn’t the answer, but parent Connie Wilson said, “I would just rather pay truancy and make sure she’s safe than send her to school and let her get hurt.”Apparently Stough sent out a couple of text messages to other teachers, the messages reading, “Scares the hell out of my kids. One about to pee her pants.”

In a phone call to acting superintendent Jeff Chambers a few days later, he said that it is the district’s policy not to talk about personnel matters. “However, all students are safe, and at no time during this incident were any students at risk.” Of course they weren’t at risk; Stough locked the door.

Stough was quick thinking enough to lock the door and seek help. She took her job seriously enough to protect her students. We’ve seen the other side of the coin all too often when a student resorts to violence. It is then, after an incident, which people are saying, “If we had done this, or that.…” Too late then.

Parents of students at McClendon Elementary have had communications with the district administration in a closed door meeting. The outcome of this meeting is apparently secret because no one is talking. Stough declined a request for an interview.

Connie Miller Maestas Wilson wrote on her Facebook page that the meeting was worthless. “They gave us nothing but empty promises, and guarantees. They would not promise us that this child that threatened to kill our children would not be in the school when they start counting our children absent.”

Jimmy Dyess, another parent within the district, said, “I think it [the meeting] was a lot of rhetoric and lies.”

This seems like a pretty easy call to me. Stough protected her students from what seemed like potential harm. If somebody said they were going to kill you, wouldn’t you take that threat pretty serious? I sure would.

This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of Security Today.

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