Here's another reminder of the confusing situations teachers and students find themselves in thanks to hastily written zero-tolerance policies: A teacher at a Detroit high school was fired for using a broom to break up a fight between two boys.
There are two public school systems in Detroit: Detroit Public Schools and the Educational Achievement Authority. Both are overseen by the state of Michigan, but the latter district — where this incident occurred — was formed two years ago as an effort to remedy low test scores and rising dropout rates.
So far, the EAA experiment hasn't produced the best results; some of the schools absorbed into the system, which were former DPS schools, have actually performed worse since the district started and state lawmakers have questioned whether the whole thing is a bust. Still, the district keeps on — and incidents like these happen.
At Pershing High School on the city's east side, two boys got into a fight. Another student captured it on video. The teacher used a broom to hit one of the students to break up the fight, which was effective.
But because the EAA has a policy against corporal punishment, the teacher was dismissed and now has to appeal to keep her job in June. Unlike almost every other school district in Michigan, EAA teachers are not represented by a union.
Keith Johnson, president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, which represents educators in the traditional Detroit Public Schools, said the teacher was caught in a Catch 22.
"Unfortunately, the method that she used, in terms of swatting one with a broom, is a violation of the corporal punishment provision under the Michigan school code," he told WJBK. "But she's caught in a quandary because under that same code she's expected to do what is necessary to diffuse a situation."