California Teacher Suspended For Rattling a Table to Get Attention of the Class

I have often used this blog (here) to complain about how teachers and administrators have used criminal charges to regulate routine instances of childish behavior. Now, we have the inverse situation of a teacher who has been confronted by police over the rattling of a desk due to an irate parent. The eighth-grade math teacher at Atherton’s Selby Lane School simply rattled a table to get his students’ attention — resulting in police being called to the classroom.

Initially, police were told that the teacher had rattled a table and thrown objects. They quickly confirmed that no objects had been thrown. Indeed, only one student was upset and had gone home and called the police from a cellphone. Most of the other students said that they were not upset by the rattling and that the teacher was only being dramatic. Yet, the school still put the teacher on administrative leave.

Redwood City School District Deputy Superintendent John Baker said the teacher will remain on leave pending an investigation. Frankly, I fail to understand. Not every allegation presumably leads to a suspension for a teacher. Administrators must use discretion (a problem in all of these stories). Here the police only found that a table had been rattled and the other students confirmed that they were not upset. That should be enough to keep a teacher in place while any further investigation proceeds.

Even if the teacher was overbearing, why is this a criminal issue? I view the decision of the student to leave school and call police to be a rather extreme response — and the suspension validates that response. I have often complained that we are teaching our students to live within a criminalized society where every infraction is filtered through the criminal code. This student appears to have learned that lesson all too well.

Source: Mercury News found on Reddit.

Jonathan Turley

11 thoughts on “California Teacher Suspended For Rattling a Table to Get Attention of the Class

  1. He “simply rattled a table to get his students’ attention.”

    Considering the monstrous impact of distractions pouring into our kids’ heads every waking moment of the day, rattling the occasional table to get them to focus hardly seems like a criminal matter.

    Does this kid who was apparently so upset by a tad of table noise, watch the same 20,000 slo-motion, bloody murder scenes by the first grade, that every other, non-Amish child does?

    I think we know who’s being overly dramatic in this play.

    And should the volume of U.S. ‘ear polution continue as it certainly will, I fully expect we will all bear witness to teacher saber rattling, in practically no time at all.

    I cannot imagine how anyone might go about keeping childhood attention for a 7-hour school day, steeped as it is in the toxic environment we call normal.

    Does anybody on the planet earn a more valued dollar than our teachers? I think not.

    So for God sakes, give them a break.

  2. Maybe I’m just not in sync with you guys this week, but when I hear that a student was upset enough to leave school and call the police because a teacher “rattled a table to get the attention of the class” I hear a euphemism for “picked up a table and repeatedly slammed it on the ground near a student who was ignoring him”.

    It still shouldn’t be a criminal matter, but “rattled a table” has euphemism written all over it.

  3. Is there a way to artificially trigger an earthquake that can severe California from the mainland and force it under water into the ocean? That might be the cheaper way to correct this situation.

  4. The teacher was endorsing drug use by rattling the table. It might have caused a student to get a headache, which would have forced him to take an aspirin, which is uber verboten under the school district’s Zero Tolerance Drug Policy.

    He’s lucky all he got was a suspension, he should have been arrested. Unless his boss was strident with him when he suspended him – that would have been bullying, which is a career-ender.

  5. My god … there’s a plethora of stupid people in this country.

    Perhaps this child is simply too delicate to withstand the atmosphere within a normal classroom … I recommend home-schooling.

  6. “I recommend home-schooling.”

    Yeah, but if & when he drives his parente to distraction, who’s gonna be his witness?

    Personally, I resent the fact that my kneejerk reaction was to blame the kid. Maybe the teacher got wild-eyed and needs a timeout himself.

    I am just extremely glad I allowed my fleeting consideration of a career in teaching & coaching, to die a natural death. Because over the last five years my partners & I have responded to an even dozen 911 calls, where teachers were assaulted by teens & ‘tweens. And nearly all of the victims were women.

    I’d already be locked up.

  7. Whatever is meant by “rattling the table” apparently wasn’t enough to traumatize any other student in class.

    It’s a good thing none of my public school teachers (those many years ago) aren’t still teaching. Psychological trauma would be the least of these students’ problems.

  8. I just caught your blog today after “googling” Selby Lane. As a former teacher at Selby Lane and RCSD, the MO is to blame the teacher and even after listening to everyone’s side of the story, blame the teacher. I noticed that the teacher involved in the incident is no long on the staff list at the school, nor is he listed on any staff of any of the schools in RCSD via the web. I don’t know if this was his choice to leave–he’d be better off as he will be “black balled” and generally harassed as I can attest to having had similar experiences with the Union and school district administration.

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