Fired for verbally insulting student


(Rhode Island)

I worked in a Special Education class for high school aged students in Rhode Island. I was the Behavior Specialist working for a private contractor for the public school department. I worked in a classroom with fourteen troubled teenagers clinically diagnosed with all different types of behavior issues, not developmentally disabled or handy capped, but diagnosed with learned behavior issues. As Behavior Specialist I was second in command to the certified Special Ed. teacher. I was always complemented on how good natured and levelheaded I was. But the job took a turn for the worse as the certified teacher became busy with midterm reports and report cards and IEP meetings and I was left alone in the class very often. The other two aids that worked in the classroom circulated around the school and were very often not there. Not being a certified teacher but being a Behavior Specialist I am not certified or trained to run a classroom. Although I did very often in the morning when the certified teacher would not show up until forty-five minutes after I was there alone with the students, between the time the students got off the bus, and school would officially start. Not being a certified teacher and thrust into the role of maintaining a classroom of fourteen behavior-diagnosed students was very trying to say the least. Finally, one day I could not hold it together. It was the end of the day on a Friday. I had been alone with the students for at least an hour when I lashed out at an overweight student who was running around the classroom throwing things and instigating fights. I did not yell but said that he “was behaving like a 300 pound three year old”. I was not thinking clearly. This is something I would never do. I actually have a three year old at home and was making a comparison in my head, which

unfortunately was made out loud. I immediately apologized to him and told the teacher what had happened when he got back to the classroom. The teacher then told my boss about the incident. Prior to that incident I was written up once for missing work and not calling in on time. After the insult to the student my boss was nice to me and did not really mention it until he made sure that all of my daily paper work was in order for his meetings. This lasted about four days and then he fired me as I came to work on the fourth day. Unfortunately, the day after the incident he made me write an incident report and sign it. I did not think it was an instrument to be used against me. At that time I had never been fired before. And in this line of work you write them all the time. But now I see that he has a signed confession that he can use against me. Thank you.



Hi,

Yup, that's exactly what he has .. a signed confession. Whether something like this will be found to rise to the level of misconduct truly depends on the liberalness of the state, whether the school was expecting you to handle duties beyond your ability or training and possibly if the school was in violation of some law about the type of supervision that is required in a classroom .. I don't know what you should focus on.

I would say, you are a perfect example of someone who will be "in over there head" at an unemployment hearing. The issue is not a "simple issue" and to maximize the probability of a favorable outcome for you, I think you should talk to an attorney and get a "legal opinion" about your case. You need their training to raise any necessary points of law that might be helpful.

Chris

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