Here’s one to think about. Eric Walker, a high school chemistry teacher in Livingston County, Mich., was recently suspended for three days for allegedly striking a student with a pointer. The girl’s mother, in addition to wanting Walker terminated, reported the incident the police but, to her dismay, the county prosecutor decided not to press charges because he determined Walker did not show criminal intent.
In fact, Walker—though he acknowledges poor judgment—claims he was merely trying to wake the student up. “It was certainly not to inflict any pain whatsoever,” he said in a written statement. “I used the pointer to wake the student because it allows me to reach across the large desks in the room that have minimal space between them. I also feel very uncomfortable making contact with a student with my hands; especially if the student is female.”
The girl claimed the contact gave her a lump on her head and that she was ill later that night. Another student said Walker “tapped” him with the pointer that day, while others said the teacher routinely used physical contact or threw small objects (like candy wrappers) at them to get their attention.
While calling the action “inappropriate,” the school’s principal said the district would not fire Walker, because it, too, found he had no intent to harm the student.
Hat tip: Nancy Flanagan, who offers a provocative interpretation.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.