The teacher says his punishment and ultimate transferal was "unfair"
Friday, Aug 2, 2013 | Updated 7:28 AM PDT :: A Van Nuys art teacher who was suspended for 11 days after writing a harsh letter to a student’s parents is firing back at the Los Angeles Unified School District, claiming he is the true victim of harsh behavior.
Lorcan Kilroy is speaking out against the LAUSD, saying the district cheated him by giving him an unfair, unpaid suspension and ultimate transferal from his job as a Van Nuys High School art teacher after he fought back against a student he said abused him in class.
"Abusive teachers, abusive students. It's abuse. Why are we tolerating that?" Kilroy said of incidents with a pupil that occurred more than a year ago.
After the student used a homophobic slur toward the teacher and threatened to "slap the (expletive) out of him," Kilroy felt the administration let the incident slide, so he took matters into his own hands and wrote a letter to the student’s parents.
"This senseless apathy is a malignant sore, a cancer on the energy and morale of the whole class," the letter stated. "This is dismal, pathetic, self-absorbed and destructive...Please do not respond to this letter by staging a conference to come dribble and whine like many do about you or your kid’s personal difficulties or your hard life."
The letter -- written in January 2012 -- is what Kilroy said resulted in his 11-day unpaid suspension, which was issued Monday and will forbid him from entering the campus from Aug. 13 to Sept. 23. Adding fuel to the fire, Kilroy found out on Wednesday that he is being transferred to Lawrence Middle School in Chatsworth.
To read the full letter, click here.
LAUSD denied the connection between the letter and his school transfer in a statement, but district officials would not comment further, citing personnel confidentiality.
"Kilroy was displaced from Van Nuys High School due to instructional program changes," the statement noted.
The disgruntled teacher said although the reasons behind the note were justified, he may have taken things too far.
"Something's going to happen if you call a teacher (slur) or threaten to slap the (expletive) out of them," Kilroy said. "I'm not proud of the letter, the letter is overly harsh. I'm not asking for sympathy from the letter."
Kilroy described an incident by another teacher during which the person made physical threats against a student, an action the LAUSD handled differently, he said.
"(The teacher) didn’t get an 11-day suspension and reporting to the Credential Commission," he said. "I did."
It’s ugly, insensitive, angry and full-on wrong.
It threatens the student’s parents. It’s on LAUSD letterhead – which gives it an official imprimatur far beyond a note from the teacher or the ubiquitous “U Notice“ of unsatisfactory conduct. And to advise against a parent-teacher conference? That alone should be an impeachable offence!
Back in the so-called Golden Age of California Education – when teachers paddled students and suspensions were given for fashion violations (needing-a-haircut or too-short skirts) teachers were advised not to say “this conduct reflects on your parents” to misbehaving kids. Gentle readers - the hand basket has arrived at its final destination: Mr. Kilroy’s letter tells parents that their kid’s misbehavior reflects on them.
In Kilroy’s defense: The offending letter was written over a year-and-half ago and it’s taken this long for the District to act. If it was copied to other teachers and counselors as it implies Mr. Kilroy should’ve been dealt with by the principal, local district superintendant or the grinding Beaudry bureaucracy immediately. As in within a day or two!
I would hope that the UTLA chapter chair – as a professional looking after the professionalism of professionals - would've pointed out to Mr. Kilroy that this isn’t a classroom management issue but a personal management issue. This whole kerfuffle is Willful Defiance Times Two.
I don’t know enough to say whether or not this is “smoking-gun” evidence of a bad teacher – we all have bad days …and we write silly things during them. But it’s certainly a textbook example of bad teaching. And evidence of bottom-to-top poor management of a teacher.