I found myself summoned to the assistant principal’s office after school .
” Do you have a student named So-and-So in your period 4 class ? ”
” Yeah,” I said .
” What kind of a student is she ? ”
” She’s a good student . Never causes any trouble . Good grades . ”
What kind of clothes does she wear ? This was trouble . At Virgil when they ask ,” Do you have a student So-and-So …….. ? ” , that’s enough . You knew you were already walking the plank and the administrator on the other side of the desk was there merely to nudge you a little further along and into the water .
” What do you mean ‘What kind of clothes does she wear ?’ ,” I said .
” I don’t know if she wears short skirts . I haven’t noticed what she wears .”
” She says you’re looking up her skirt ,” he said . Blank expression on his face . Waiting .
These are the moments when a teacher should probably stop talking and refer the administator to the union rep , or to a lawyer , but the accused knows that the union , despite images of the ‘all-powerful teachers union’ that are extant in the media , won’t do much to help , if it does anything at all . So he/she sits there and acts out the rest of the scene .
” That’s absurd ! “, I countered .
” Why would she say that if it wasn’t true ? ” , he said . This would be the appropriate moment to stand up , tell him to go to hell , and walk out . But , when you need the job , you sit there and take it . You’re just a teacher . At this point in the conversation , I had the suffocating feeling , it’s a twelve year old’s word against mine .
End of conference . I’m admonished to have no contact with the student . I stand up to leave . No shaking of hands . Each adversary goes to his corner to document .
But I went against orders and talked to the girl . I told her why I was called in to the A.P.’s office . I asked her why she would say that . She immediately began to cry . ” I didn’t want to get you in trouble ,” she blubbers . She means it . I’d told the A.P. that she doesn’t cause trouble . I explain to her that her lie could get me in BIG trouble . Not a good thing . Why would she say that ?
Through her tears she told me .
She was desperate to get into Mr. J’s pre-algebra class . She had tried for weeks to transfer into his class . His class had space . But . The but was that she was required to take history and mine was the only history class offered . To go to Mr. J’s pre-algebra she would need to transfer out of my class and the counselors had told her that she couldn’t transfer out of my class . My class was the obstacle keeping her from her goal . She had tried to go through proper channels , but that wasn’t working for her . Her older sister suggested that she accuse me . That would get her out of my class .
” I didn’t mean to get you in trouble ,” she said again . No , she meant to get into J’s pre-algebra class .
” Don’t transfer her out of my history class ,” I said . ” Word will spread and every student will get the word that false accusations work .”
What happened ? It’s Virgil . What do you think happened ? He immediately transferred her out of my class and into the pre-algebra class that she wanted . Welcome to Virgil ! Whatever works !
That Assistant Principal became a principal and is now a School Board member .
[The student probably got into graduate school with no problem. Maybe she teaches math in some university and is by now beginning to plan for retirement]