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05-18-06, 06:20 AM #1
Teacher who called Goerge Bush an asshole repeatedly in class, fired for...
ATHENS — Steve White, a political candidate and eighth grade teacher, was dismissed from his position late Tuesday night after an investigation found he showed videos with sex acts, nudity and other obscene images to students.
“I think the evidence was clear,” said Dr. Barry Carroll, superintendent of Limestone County Schools, who recommended the Board of Education cancel White’s contract following the hearing.
During a two-week-long investigation in April, Carroll said pornographic material was found in White’s computer and administrators determined that White was showing videos rather than teaching science in his class at West Limestone High School.
White was placed on paid administrative leave April 7. Some of the students who were interviewed following the allegations on April 10 testified during Tuesday night’s hearing.
Although attendees did not hear the evidence against White, who requested the hearing remain private, Carroll gave The News Courier a list of findings of the investigation, which included showing video clips of sexual activity and “a computer image of a girl exposing her breast.”
White, who sat at a table beside his attorney, Bill Dawson of Birmingham, during a three-hour long hearing and 90-minute deliberation, did not comment on the board’s vote. Only board member Roger Whitt voted against the superintendent’s recommendation. Members of White’s family who attended also had no comment.
When asked for comment, White pointed to Dawson, who said the decision will be appealed.
“We will do that promptly,” he said. “We’re disappointed (with this outcome). We expect to prevail when we have a full and complete hearing.” Dawson said Tuesday’s board hearing was “a rather abbreviated procedure.” Arbitration will likely not be set for about a month, he said.
Error in judgment?
Emmitt Jimmar, Alabama Education Association representative for Limestone County, sat with White and his attorney. Jimmar told members of the press after the vote that the school board was responsible for protecting its teachers and for filtering the material that comes into schools.
Some parents said material White showed students came to his computer via e-mail and then was shown to students. Jimmar said White was not responsible for what “popped up” on his computer and he should not have been fired for an “error in judgment.”
“We think this is most unfair for this particular offense,” he said.
A group of parents who stayed at the school board chambers until 11 p.m. awaiting the outcome, however, felt the outcome was not only just, but mandatory.
“It’s sad when anyone who hears about Limestone County hears about teachers showing obscene videos to kids,” said Kelley Smith, a parent of students at Clements High School, who said she attended the hearing because she is concerned that other teachers may be behaving inappropriately in class and should be sent a message.
“This is not an isolated incident,” she said. “Teachers’ misbehavior and actions are being swept under the rug.”
Earlier in the evening, Smith said if the board did not dismiss White, “that sets a precedent in Limestone County that the rights of a tenured teacher supersede the rights of a child to have an education. That’s bizarre.”
Melanie Coleman, whose daughter is in seventh grade at West Limestone High School, said she attended the hearing to show “It’s not just a few parents out of this classroom who are upset.”
Politics in class
Allegations against White began when parents complained their children had been shown a video at filmstripinternaitonal.com referring the President Bush and his administration as a-holes numerous times. The clip also used the s-word and showed someone “flipping a bird.”
On April 5, parent Christy Jackson demanded to know what punishment White had received and went to Channel 48 with her concerns. She did not name White during her interview, but The News Courier leaned the following day the teacher was White, a candidate for the district 4 seat on the state House of Representatives.
Carroll announced the following week that White had been punished by Principal Stan Davis in the form of a letter of reprimand in his employment file.
The story was soon picked up by national news shows, including Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and others. Talk radio show hosts discussed the incident for several days and Web site logs, one of which named White “Unhinged Teacher of the Week” were created.
On April 7, parents came to school board members with new allegations against White, saying he had shown sexually explicit materials in class. White was placed on leave that day.
Davis and Carroll confiscated the computer from White’s room April 10.
In a copy of the letter Carroll sent White on April 24 informing him of his intention to recommend canceling his contract, Carroll listed reasons for termination as “incompetency, insubordination, neglect of duty, immorality and failure to perform duties in a satisfactory manner or other good and just cause.”
Here is the list of reasons Carroll gave White in the letter:
1. Mr. White lets students watch videos and computer images in his classroom rather than engage in teaching;
2. Mr. White shows videos and computer images to his students which are inappropriate to be shown at school and inappropriate for the age of the students.
3. Mr. White has shown students in his class videos and computer images with sexual themes.
4. Mr. White has shown students in his class computer images purporting to show a former president and his wife engaged in sexual activity;
5. Mr. White has shown members of his class computer and video images showing an older lady answering questions relating to sex and other subjects using profanity. (Editor’s note: According to a student, these were clips of The Fruitcake Lady, a character shown on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.)
6. Mr. White has shown students in his class a computer image of a girl exposing her breast;
7. Rather than teach science, Mr. White shows students videos and computer images;
8. In violation of school board policy IFBG-A., Mr. White has used his computer to access Internet sites or programs which are offensive and otherwise not suitable or proper for use in the Limestone County School system;
9. Mr. White, in violation of school board policy, has pornographic images on his computer;
10. Mr. White has shown students computer images of a girl with a can of beer and a cigarette.
05-18-06, 06:31 AM #2"When I'm driving along and I see a sign that says, CAUTION: SMALL CHILDREN AHEAD,
I slow down, and then it occurs to me, I'm not afraid of small children"!
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