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Teacher Who Showed Garden Tools to Second Grade Students is Suspended Without Pay
From Daily Mail
A teacher is suing his school district after he was reprimanded for showing wrenches, pliers and screwdrivers to his second-grade students during a presentation on garden tools.
The administration at Washington Irving Elementary School in Chicago suspended veteran teacher Doug Bartlett, claiming he exposed young children to potentially hazardous items.
Mr Bartlett filed a lawsuit against the district on April 17m claiming the educator suffered humiliation and embarrassment as a result of the suspension.
Mr Bartlett says the incident took place on August 8, 2011, when he brought garden tools into his classroom for a lesson on tool discussion.
He said that all potentially hazardous items were kept out of the students' reach and were meant only as visual aids.
When he was not explaining the use of the tools, the items were stored in a secure toolbox on a high shelf, out of the student's reach, the teacher said.
But on August 19, 2011, the district informed the teacher that he was under investigation for 'possessing, carrying, storing, or using a weapon' and for negligently supervising children.
The school disagreed and he was penalized with a four-day suspension without pay.
The teacher was charged by the school's administration with possessing, carrying, storing or using a weapon by the school.
He has now filed suit, claiming the school violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process.
He says there was never a full hearing on the matter and he was disciplined without having the opportunity to plead his case.
In his complaint, he says he suffered 'humiliation, embarrassment, mental suffering, and lost wages, and was suspended for four days.'
He is seeking damages and requesting the suspension be expunged from his teaching record.
In the age of electronic records, his attorney says that an administration charge of possessing a weapon could prevent Mr Bartlett from seeking employment elsewhere.
The teacher is being represented by a lawyer from the Rutherford Institute, a Virginia non-profit who offers legal aid for individuals they believe have had their constitutional rights threatened.
'This school district’s gross overreaction to a simple teaching demonstration on basic tools such as wrenches and pliers underscores exactly what is wrong with our nation’s schools,' said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute.
'Education truly suffers when school administrators exhibit such poor judgment and common sense,' he added.
His attorney is hopeful that the teacher's upstanding record of 17 years of teaching, without incident, will work in his favor.
The lawsuit was failed against Defendants City of Chicago School District #299 and and the school's principal, Valeria Newell.