School Climate & Safety

Teachers Resign After Peer Is Fired in Mo. District

By Jessica L. Tonn — June 07, 2005 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A principal’s decision to make a 4th grade girl move rocks as punishment, along with the subsequent firing of a teacher who helped the child, apparently has resulted in the departure of seven of the 10 teachers in Missouri’s tiny East Lynne school district.

The controversy started in September, when Christa Price, then a 2nd grade teacher at the 163-student East Lynne Elementary School, discovered that Principal Dan L. Doerhoff had ordered the unidentified girl to use a five-gallon bucket to carry rocks from a former construction site to a wooded area near the school.

The girl, left unsupervised except for a security camera, according to Ms. Price, received the three-day punishment for an infraction that school officials are not disclosing.

When Ms. Price asked Mr. Doerhoff to reconsider what she believed to be a too-harsh penalty, or to move the girl closer to the school for safety reasons, he refused. The teacher and several of her colleagues then took turns monitoring the girl during their breaks and free periods over the next two days.

In December, Mr. Doerhoff, who is also the 253-student district’s superintendent, recommended that the school board not renew Ms. Price’s one-year contract, citing her failure to support the administration during the September incident as the reason. Untenured Missouri teachers must renew their contracts annually, and are usually eligible for tenure after five years.

State Extends Certification

Ms. Price was in her fourth year of teaching at the school, and had successfully completed three previous performance reviews, when the school board accepted Mr. Doerhoff’s recommendation for nonrenewal.

In order to upgrade her teacher certification to a lifetime, career-level certification, Ms. Price needs four successful reviews. The state education department has extended her initial certificate level for another year, and she will be eligible for career certification in one year, says Rusty Rosenkoetter, the department’s director of educator certification.

“It pretty much comes down to he fired me over the safety of a student,” Ms. Price contended last week.

Six of the school’s untenured teachers decided to let their contracts with the district expire to protest Ms. Price’s dismissal this spring, according to Ms. Price. A seventh teacher, who was tenured, also resigned.

According to Mr. Doerhoff, the teachers are leaving for a “multiplicity of reasons.” He maintains that several have taken jobs closer to their homes, that one is a new mother, and that one teaching position is being eliminated at the school, among other reasons.

“I don’t agree that all the teachers left in protest,” he said, although he conceded that at least two had.

The Kansas City Star, however, reported that the seven departing teachers issued a statement that said, in part, “If a teacher who advocates on behalf of safety of a student is not fit to be a teacher at East Lynne or anywhere in Missouri according to this administration, then none of us are fit to teach at East Lynne.”

No More Rocks

Though Mr. Doerhoff expressed concerns about the high turnover of teachers, he said contracts have been offered for all the open teaching positions at the school.

As for the rock punishment, he says he will not use it again.

Ted Feinberg, the assistant executive director of the Bethesda, Md.-based National Association of School Psychologists, described the punishment as “medieval in nature,” and “intended to humiliate and degrade the child.” He suggested using a positive behavioral approach that addresses the root cause of a disciplinary problem, and an intervention that appropriately matches the offense.

Related Tags:


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Professional Development Webinar
Strategies for Improving Student Outcomes with Teacher-Student Relationships
Explore strategies for strengthening teacher-student relationships and hear how districts are putting these methods into practice to support positive student outcomes.
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
Transform Teaching and Learning with AI
Increase productivity and support innovative teaching with AI in the classroom.
Content provided by Promethean
Curriculum Webinar Computer Science Education Movement Gathers Momentum. How Should Schools React?
Discover how schools can expand opportunities for students to study computer science education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety 'Swatting' Calls and Lockdowns: Tips for Schools to Ease the Anxiety and Disruption
How school administrators can prepare for lockdowns and restore calm.
4 min read
A male police officer in a dark blue uniform walks between two white police SUVs parked in front of a three-story, red brick school building.
A police officer patrolled Glennwood Elementary School in Decatur, Ga., while the school was on lockdown in 2018.
John Amis/AP
School Climate & Safety 'Swatting' Hoaxes Disrupt Schools Across the Country. What Educators Need to Know
School lockdowns can cause stress to students, teachers, and families, even if threats don't materialize.
8 min read
A bald man and a woman with long brown hair tearfully hug a teen girl who is wearing a pale beighe backpack. Three women look on with concerned expressions.
A family shares a tearful reunion after Thomas Jefferson High School in San Antonio, Texas, went into lockdown because of a false report of a shooting.
Kin Man Hui/The San Antonio Express-News via AP
School Climate & Safety How to Spend $1 Billion in School Safety Funds: Here's What the Feds Recommend
A "Dear Colleague" letter from the Education Department puts a priority on creating inclusive, equitable school environments.
4 min read
The U.S. Department of Education urged schools to use federal funds to support the social, emotional, mental, and physical health needs of students in a "dear colleague" letter sent Sept. 15.
Third grader Alexis Kelliher points to her feelings while visiting a sensory room at Williams Elementary School in Topeka, Kan.
Charlie Riedel/AP