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missesdash
11-09-2012, 05:03 AM
Pretty straight forward.

I have a male student who has been really subtly stalking and harassing a female teacher. He's a favorite among the staff and she's new to the school, so everyone already doubts her.

I have a scene where he talks to her in the parking lot and asks her questions about information he found about her online. He also stands between her and the car door when she tries to leave. He's 17, she's in her early 20's.

She goes to the principal and the three of them have a meeting. The student is really chummy with the principal and the meeting ends with a 'this was obviously a misunderstanding.'

From there it escalates, but I'm wondering what kind of recourse she has. He hasn't broken any laws, and even the staring and blocking her way is kind of "subjective."

In the end, he's still going to get away with it, but I want her to seem like a savvy teacher and be really adamant about reporting the incident. Could she have him removed from the class just because she's uncomfortable? What if she's the only one who teaches it and he needs the credit?

This is currently in an unspecified american suburb, so any accounts are helpful.

Thanks

melindamusil
11-09-2012, 06:37 AM
It's pretty unfair but more often than not, the student gets the benefit of the doubt and the teacher will be presumed guilty until proven innocent.

As far as removing the student from her class - it could happen but it all depends on the principal. A good principal (or at least one who believes the teacher) would move him to a different class. A bad principal, who believes the student and not the teacher, might even write up the teacher for not doing her job.

If you want her to be savvy- have her documenting every experience with the student. That way she has legal evidence if/when she needs to take it to the next level (like consulting a lawyer). She could also be documenting her experiences with the principal. Perhaps she has a friend who is a lawyer who suggests it?

shakeysix
11-09-2012, 06:53 AM
She could have the student removed from her room even with out any solid proof. It can be done but it is a last resort and will be remembered by the administration. I think the more realistic approach would be to have the teacher decide not to remove him from the class because she feels that she is reaching him. I have had some experience with teachers thinking they are helping a kid when they really should be on their guard. --s6

jclarkdawe
11-09-2012, 06:58 AM
The teacher documents like crazy. Audio and video recording are nice and easily done now. Verbalize instructions in a clear and concise fashion. For example, "Move," is not good. "Please move from the car door so I can open it," is what you want to say.

Patience is how you win these things. Sooner or later the amount of stuff you save will be enough to convince anyone.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Kitty Pryde
11-09-2012, 07:26 AM
Don't forget calling his parents.

missesdash
11-09-2012, 08:01 AM
Don't forget calling his parents.

I completely forgot about this! His mother's an alcoholic and never home, but it's one of those obvious things that should at least be mentioned.

Thanks for the suggestions. I figured she'd be in a tough place. The documenting is legal, right? She can record her interactions with him on school property?

I'll have to look up the law for that.

Kitty Pryde
11-09-2012, 08:09 AM
Administrators absolutely encourage documenting everything surrounding an "issue" with a student. Because something like "he always has bruises" is much less informative than "here are five times I wrote down where and when he had fresh bruises on him". etc!

ETA: video recording could be trickier! For instance, at our school parents have to sign a waiver saying they do or don't give consent for their kids to be videotaped. If they don't, you can't tape them for any reason, even if you don't plan to show it to anyone.

lastlittlebird
11-09-2012, 09:17 AM
My mother is a school principal, albeit of a girls' school in New Zealand. Unfortunately, often if there is a case of a teacher's word vs a student's word with no proof either way, there's not too much she can do, even if she leans to one side in terms of who to believe.
Documenting incidents, as people have said, is definitely the way to go. If possible, she should always try to insist on someone else being present when he's there (even if no one really believes he's stalking her, I would think this a reasonable request after she's made a fuss).

Also, several times my mother has been able to prove things because her kids were foolish enough to do their research on the school computers, and mum was able to look up what they had been looking up. They have their own, individual logins. (heck, she's even caught them with incriminating photos posted on Facebook from home... I guess they didn't realise it's a public forum and even school principals Facebook these days).
I don't know if your stalker is that foolish, but your teacher might hope that he is.

jaksen
11-10-2012, 02:14 AM
Her doing things alone would def. seem odd to me. (I am a retired teacher of 35+ years.)

Any teacher with a problem like this would immediately contact a union representative, or the lawyer which represents the school staff. (Or who represents the school district.) A sit down would occur with the teacher outlining exactly everything which happened.

Then, that student would be kept at a distance. If the administration insists the student remain in the teacher's class (something I am horrified to think might happen), the teacher has 20+ other witnesses (the other students) for any inappropriate behavior. The teacher is never with the student alone. Say you are in the hall and you see the student approaching you, you head for the nearest classroom which has a teacher and/or students in it.

I've seen this sort of thing happen irl and the union, or teacher representatives are the best person to speak with. And if you speak to an administrator and the result isn't satisfactory, you head up the chain to higher administrators, the superintendent, etc. You can also speak to school counselors, and if you work on a teaching team, you obviously report to those teachers, too. If there is a school security officer or officers, they are told about the situation, too. Everyone will start looking out for you.

And yes, of course you contact the parents - by registered letter if you can't reach them at home. Or you call their place of business until you get a response.

In most instances the student will back off - esp. if you take all these measures. In no instance does the teacher ever 'retaliate' or harass the student in return. Everything the teacher does is legal, and done for his or her protection.

However, there is one other resource: the police. I went to the police one time in my long career to report a student who came into my room, hit one of my students, then threatened me before running off. I reported to my principal, then left to talk to the police. The student tried to return to school the next day but was escorted off the premises by the police. Ultimately he was removed from public school altogether.

The_Ink_Goddess
11-10-2012, 03:44 AM
Her doing things alone would def. seem odd to me. (I am a retired teacher of 35+ years.)

Any teacher with a problem like this would immediately contact a union representative, or the lawyer which represents the school staff. (Or who represents the school district.) A sit down would occur with the teacher outlining exactly everything which happened.

Then, that student would be kept at a distance. If the administration insists the student remain in the teacher's class (something I am horrified to think might happen), the teacher has 20+ other witnesses (the other students) for any inappropriate behavior. The teacher is never with the student alone. Say you are in the hall and you see the student approaching you, you head for the nearest classroom which has a teacher and/or students in it.

I've seen this sort of thing happen irl and the union, or teacher representatives are the best person to speak with. And if you speak to an administrator and the result isn't satisfactory, you head up the chain to higher administrators, the superintendent, etc. You can also speak to school counselors, and if you work on a teaching team, you obviously report to those teachers, too. If there is a school security officer or officers, they are told about the situation, too. Everyone will start looking out for you.

And yes, of course you contact the parents - by registered letter if you can't reach them at home. Or you call their place of business until you get a response.

In most instances the student will back off - esp. if you take all these measures. In no instance does the teacher ever 'retaliate' or harass the student in return. Everything the teacher does is legal, and done for his or her protection.

However, there is one other resource: the police. I went to the police one time in my long career to report a student who came into my room, hit one of my students, then threatened me before running off. I reported to my principal, then left to talk to the police. The student tried to return to school the next day but was escorted off the premises by the police. Ultimately he was removed from public school altogether.

Bear in mind, though, that they're not quite as efficient as they might sound. In fact, they're arguably even more plagued with bureaucracy and bias.

Katrina S. Forest
11-10-2012, 10:51 AM
Something else to consider, even if she's new to the school, she's not a stranger there either. Presumably, the principal interviewed her and liked her enough to give her a job. If the principal is suddenly not going to trust her, it seems there should be some reason for that. Maybe he (or she) disagreed with something she did earlier in the year, maybe he didn't like the way she dressed one particular day or how she conducted a lesson. Nothing that he would've professionally penalized her for, but something that might lead to him thinking, "And now you're accusing our best student of misconduct? Really?"

Shakesbear
11-10-2012, 01:25 PM
Very good points, especially about union reps. Written records of events can be disputed if there are no independent witnesses to support them.

It has already been said that she should NEVER be alone with him - but that should apply to all meetings a teacher has with a pupil. Always ensure, if possible, that there is another adult present.

There is one thing she could do - which is very simple. Good teachers build bridges with pupils and find out their strengths and weaknesses so they can assist their learning. Having insight into an individual can also make it possible to subtlety set the individual up to fail, or to behave in such a way that the authorities have little choice but to take action. Pupils do it all the time - example: a pupil who was off school with a potentially fatal illness. She has a cousin in the school who is a nasty bully, but was very attached to his cousin. Some of the kids started a rumour that she had been rushed to hospital. He goes ape,demands that his form tutor drives him to the hospital and when the teacher refuses he wrecked the class room! This leads to permanent exclusion. It could be something very simple - reading a piece of poetry that touches on a traumatic experience. If his mother is a drunk putting a photo up of a drunk woman and using it as a basis for a piece of descriptive writing.

jaksen
11-12-2012, 12:46 AM
Bear in mind, though, that they're not quite as efficient as they might sound. In fact, they're arguably even more plagued with bureaucracy and bias.

I suppose in some areas yes, but not where I come from. (Liberal state of MA.) Any time a teacher in my district had an issue and needed union help or help from the lawyer assigned to the district, help was immediate and efficient. Perhaps this has something to do with the overall strength of the union, its reputation, its constituents, and who the president is, (of the union.)

There is strength in numbers, too, so the second best thing to do is tell other teachers. Lots of them. Document everything. And have another witness to whatever's going on, where and when possible. Adult witnesses are the best. Impartial adults, like the mother of some student you don't even have in class is even better. I witnessed a teacher (sexually) harass another teacher and I immediately made a huge big deal out of it: What the heck are you doing, Mr. --- I have never heard such language in my life! If she doesn't report you, I think I will!

Etc. etc. I made a grand and exaggerated production out of it, and most the time I'm sort of a shrinking violet. Guy didn't bother the teacher again and I did report it and he wasn't rehired the next year.

I base my response on my experience, of course.

DSA
11-14-2012, 08:08 PM
A colleague of mine was being harassed by a principal. She warned others that she was carrying a small tape recorder for her protection. No, not admissible in court but she didn't plan on it going that far. Schools can be very clique prone and being new, her colleagues might not be helpful. But, as others have said, document, document, document. And, call the union if the principal does not support you.

espresso5
11-15-2012, 09:09 AM
Build a paper trail and keep a journal of specific times (to the minute) and places when and where incidents occur as well as any potential witnesses and exactly what was said/done.
Administrators have a good idea who is the more credible person in the he said/she said scenarios. Usually it's the teacher. Only once in my experience was the teacher less credible, and that was because the teacher had a mental illness and his complaints were the result of paranoid delusions. Students come and go, while teachers might be around for decades, so by default administrators tend to give the teacher the benefit of the doubt.
When you work in education you get an idea of what students are capable of in terms of abilities and personalities. After a semester with a student you can pretty much read their soul. A person can hide their true personality and abilities in a conversation, but after an exam or paper, their true nature is exposed, so even if the teacher is new, if the student has been around for a while, his deficits should be obvious to the other teachers and the principal. Likewise, a five minute look at the teacher's college transcript will be a strong indicator of the type of person they are.
Educators just don't form these buddy buddy relationships with students. They're kids with kid personalities and kid judgement. Even if the adminstrator thought it was a misunderstanding, i don't think he/she would express it in front of the teacher and/or student.

Jones()
11-15-2012, 10:51 AM
I taught in public schools for about five years all together. All I could add is that how an administrator and the teacher's colleagues treat the situation will depend on the personalities and relationships involved.

If you want the administrator to take the student's side, come up with some plausible reasons. Like, make the student's parents particularly standout members of the community who are either a benefit to the school that the principal values or a headache that he wants to avoid. Or you could invent some reason for him not to like the teacher. Was she a recent hire? Perhaps she was hired over his objections. Perhaps she beat out another candidate that he liked better. Perhaps there's something about her that just rubs him the wrong way. (apologies for assuming the principal is a man, by the way -- can't remember if you said so one way or the other ;-) )

As others have pointed out, the union should play a big role too (if you want the story to be realistic). Union reps will usually stand with a teacher unless they have a good reason not to. But then again, maybe she has a lousy union rep -- or maybe the union rep doesn't like her.

I taught in a system in a dirt poor rural community for a while. In a place like that, everybody seems to know everybody's business (or they think they do), and it's easy for a new arrival in the school system to piss off the wrong person and suddenly find themselves distanced from everybody. All sorts of crazy rumors will fly around. If your story is set in a place like that, it shouldn't be too hard to come up with a plausible reason for the teacher to find herself without any allies.

take care,

---Jones()

ArtsyAmy
11-15-2012, 06:14 PM
There is one thing she could do - which is very simple. Good teachers build bridges with pupils and find out their strengths and weaknesses so they can assist their learning. Having insight into an individual can also make it possible to subtlety set the individual up to fail, or to behave in such a way that the authorities have little choice but to take action. Pupils do it all the time - example: a pupil who was off school with a potentially fatal illness. She has a cousin in the school who is a nasty bully, but was very attached to his cousin. Some of the kids started a rumour that she had been rushed to hospital. He goes ape,demands that his form tutor drives him to the hospital and when the teacher refuses he wrecked the class room! This leads to permanent exclusion. It could be something very simple - reading a piece of poetry that touches on a traumatic experience. If his mother is a drunk putting a photo up of a drunk woman and using it as a basis for a piece of descriptive writing.
(bold applied by Amy)

The bold part comes across to me as possibly manipulative and an abuse of power/authority on the teacher's part. If you want your teacher character to be seen as sympathetic by readers, you might want to tread carefully if you have the teacher use this kind of tactic.