Article sympathetic to mentoring teacher fired for helping troubled student - Not sure I agree

Article here “The price of mentoring? Why this Boca Raton teacher is being fired”…

In reading the entire article I get the impression that despite the teacher’s empathy and compassion her relationship with this mentally disturbed girl veers into naive stupidity and inappropriateness way too often. I understand how the girls mother was angry at the teacher’s actions and I agree with the decision to remove her kid from the teacher’s classroom. This teacher was warned by peers and school records that the kid was a chronic, attention seeking liar but kept trying to be her buddy despite a sea of red flags.

It’s important to be compassionate but you can’t be an idiot at the same time.

It sounds like she’s been thrown under the bus for other people’s bad decisions.

Didn’t file a child abuse report when the girl first raised it? Correct decision - the people who did ultimately investigate the child abuse allegation determined that the accusation wasn’t credible, and that a reasonable person wouldn’t have thought that it was

Did file a report when her supervisor told her too? Also correct decision - she was following a direct instruction from management. At that point, if that’s a sack-worthy offence HE should be the one carrying the can.

It’s pretty telling that the school wants to fire her for not reporting quickly enough, and the parents want to get her fired for reporting AT ALL. (I’m not surprised that they’re angry, under the circumstances, but I think they’re gunning for the wrong target)

"Her dizzying reversal of fortunes is, in large part, a story of the pitfalls that await teachers who make extended efforts to aid troubled students. "

aka don’t help the hopeless trash cause you’ll just get burned for your troubles …

I sympathize with the teacher here, I think she had good intentions throughout but was simply naive, and victimized by a lying student, and also a school system and societal system that needed a scapegoat. But the teacher was really, really, naive and foolish.

This is really sad. A fresh out of school teacher is not trained or prepared to deal with students with textbook borderline personality disorder. Where was the school guidance counselor? Or nurse, even?

The “shocked” parents should be looked at a little more closely, I think…even just to inquire where the student started to go awry. None of this happened in a vacuum, and the girl is obviously disturbed. I’m not claiming definitively that the parents are specifically at fault for the child’s mental illness; however, even if the reported incidents were the first manifestations, I see no evidence that the teacher created her personality disorder. I feel very bad for the young teacher in question, and the student as well, who might have been reaching out the only way she knew how (even if it meant exaggeration).

But seriously, unless there’s something blatant I missed, I can’t comprehend how the teacher would be at fault.

I’m a retired teacher.
My (private) school had a school counsellor, who gave annual talks to all staff. These covered legal obligations and ‘best practice.’
The key point from these talks was to keep the school counsellor, your immediate superior and the pupil’s form teacher informed about all developments. They would advise, particularly what to tell the parents

Where this well-meaning teacher went wrong was not to let anyone else know what was going on until it all blew up.

She’s not being fired:

And she was a naive idiot- not unusual in the “I’m going to change the world” idealism of new, young teachers.

That’s what I was wondering as I read the article. It looks like she was selected to be a mentor for students who were struggling with school work, but got over her head with the student who has(?) BPD, something completely outside of the scope of the mentor program.

I wonder if the school didn’t have the same training as your school or if she didn’t pay attention, but it does look like she didn’t realize the seriousness of the situation.

In all fairness, I didn’t understand the seriousness of dating someone with BPD and I was much older.

Just from the two articles, it sounds like the superintendent tried to throw her under the bus, though.

Cookie-cutter sociology. You hire a professional with the training to make procedural judgments concerning individual clients, and then fire them for not going by the all-knowing book. You don’t just correct them, or let them learn from their own judgment errors, you fire them, destroy their lives, deprive posterity of what they have learned to contribute.

You have an incensed parent who has had the authorities sicced on them by a teacher who is not any kind of an official mentor to the child but has chosen to have an intense counseling relationship with this kid and despite numerous warnings and indications the kid is a chronic liar, pursued that relationship.

Now I’m battling accusations of child abuse and I find on my kids phone this intensive emotional dialogue with his teacher going over several months that I knew nothing about. A teacher who is not even my childs official mentor it appears to not have very much knowledge about the history of this kids psychological issues and is taking a bunch of crazy stories at face value.

If I’m the school administrator dealing with this rat’s nest of bad decisions I’m not sure I wouldn’t want her gone despite her best intentions.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

Just from the two linked articles, the superintendent didn’t come across very well, including making statements which didn’t seen to be supported by the facts.

I think the articles are too sympathetic to the teacher, so it’s hard to tell everything which is going on.

However, had the superintendent made the same case you did, then it would seem less likely that the district was trying to avoid responsibility themselves.

Yet another illustration of where we get bitter jaded cynical teachers. Predictable, but sad nonetheless.

Remember that the student was not in the mentor program at all, but rather sought the teacher out separately. Indeed, someone with BPD probably has a certain radar for picking up on codependent tendencies, and she may have sensed that this teacher would be an especially sympathetic ear.

The teacher seems to me to be a little past naïve into unhealthy judgment territory. I can understand the interaction developing bit by bit, but at some point, she ought to have recognized that it could look like religious or some other sort of grooming. And certainly, if you find yourself alone in a car at night with a student who has just fled her home, and neither the school nor the parents knows anything about your relationship, alarm bells should be going off. Imagine a male teacher in such a situation.

That said, the superintendent seems like a weather vane who handled the school’s response badly at nearly every turn.

She had no training. From the article linked in the OP:

I would put part of the blame on the school board for not providing training and putting an uncertified instructor in charge of mentoring students.

The out-of-school texting and God-sharing were absolutely, positively out of line. I think the teacher was well-intentioned, but IMHO that was a serious boundary violation (amongst other troubling actions on the teacher’s part). Granted, I’m at the college level and don’t get as close to students as a high school teacher might, but I would never think this level and type of personal interaction outside of class is okay. This was a job for a school counselor/private psychiatrist.

Having lived with a person who is BPD I recognize the behavior and symptoms in other folks pretty quickly (then I run away as fast as possible). Maybe the teacher was truly ignorant of the student’s depth of pathologies, but that is also kind of difficult to believe given the issues reported.

Should she be fired? This is a grey area with no easy answer, especially as she appeared to be a model educator prior to this mess.

I feel for the teacher - she’s young, idealistic, wants to help, and she gets a kid with borderline. It’s like chumming the water for a shark, ffs.

  1. I’m 95% sure the superintendent absolutely knows that their school didn’t train their teachers properly to be “mentors” or even provide any sort of guidelines as to professional boundaries. That’s why he’s so panic-stricken and trying to punish/fire this poor stupid naive girl - he needs to scapegoat someone hardcore so the problem seems with a single teacher with bad judgment (hooo boy did she ever have bad judgment) instead of an institutional issue where they’re generally not providing guidance or procedures to teachers to ameliorate possible bad judgment. The publicity from the article, and the fact that the teacher has a rock-star reputation from her own school years and as a new rising-star teacher is all that saved her ass there, and she better watch out for continued spiteful minor retaliation for years in the future.

  2. the teacher is young, just out of school, used to being in a sporting team, and full of ideals about how she’s going to touch lives and improve her students’ self-esteem and provide positive feedback and support ALL THE CHILDREN!1!! (insert big sparkly anime eyes and hearts and stars). Of course she’s going to try to unofficially mentor this trainwreck from her history class, especially with the kid looking all doe-eyed and pathetic and helpless and needy at her every day, and talking shit about How Awful Life Is© and how Everything Is Ruined Forever™ and (oh, teacher, are you Christian? I am too, sigh, but my parents are atheists and they beat me when I try to go to church, sniffle) How God Always Has A Plan®.

  3. parents are pissed at the school (and thus the school scapegoats the teacher) because they are ashamed that their kid has “mental problems” and feel like this whole fiasco reflects badly on them as parents with the community and inside the school (If the kid really is borderline, it absolutely should NOT, but it often does) and they are humiliated and afraid after having to deal with CPS and having their kid taken away for a while. It’s a fraught and confrontational and unpleasant process; even if there is no finding of guilt afterwards there is a LOT of trauma inherent in the process. No fault to CPS or the school or even the parents, but that’s just the way it is.

  4. for the love of fuck why over the course of MONTHS didn’t this teacher TELL ANYONE IN ADMIN or a guidance counselor or a school nurse or fucking ANYONE that this child was lying through her lying face about everything in her life and that perhaps that might be indicative of a SERIOUS MENTAL PROBLEM that needs to be looked into by someone competent and professional and appropriate?!

And that’s the crux of the matter right there. The teacher was starry-eyed and sure that she could Save This Girl™ and that no-one else could understand what was going on in the kid’s life, and that it was Her Mission (possibly From God) To Be The One Adult Who Understands© and all of those very understandable but wrong thoughts by this young-ass teacher were absolutely totally and knowingly encouraged by this girl with borderline who knew that she’d pretty much fallen INTO the gravy train and is rolling around in it like a fat happy maggot, totally unconcerned about anything except her own mental emotional gratification.

It’s like a perfect storm. I’m at least grateful that they decided to keep the teacher away from that school until Mrs Personality graduates.

(and yes, I have a relative with Borderline, can you tell? Boundaries. They’re a thing.)

I don’t know if we can accept that article on face value. As others have said, the student wasn’t part of the mentoring program.

Why was the teacher “on her own?”

The training I was referring to was that which glee’s school had which was:

We don’t know if that school district also had the same training or not. The article was quite sympathetic to the teacher and didn’t question the options which she could have had.

Why didn’t she go to other teachers, her supervisor or the counselor about the girl? We don’t know but it does make a difference on how far the system is culpable.

If the school district had clear training, such as glee’s school, then it would be really easy to point out that she was ignoring good instructions. If the school district didn’t have those guidelines, then I think the district and the principal were more negligent.

I have personal experience on the receiving side of a bad system. I was a Mormon missionary and was leaving a highly dysfunctional family for the first time. In the Missionary Training Center and then in Japan, I suffered from depression and anxiety, but neither the MTC leader nor the missionary program had any kind of training at all on how to handle young adults with mental or emotional issues. I can’t fault the adults in question because they were thrown to the wolves.

Lately, it seems that the Mormon church has made some changes to the program and now has more experts available for advice. (It’s till not adequate, but that’s another matter.)

Back to the teacher. She was free lancing. So from the district’s point of view, she simply shouldn’t have gotten into that relationship. I don’t believe that’s as clear cut as that.

However, she did get in over her head and (apparently) didn’t ask for help. I would like to know why because it does make a difference on who is more at fault.

I agree it’s like asking someone to do a little off-the-books tutoring, and then suddenly expecting them to be a psychiatrist, and an experienced one at that.

I also think that the texting was out of line, and so was what was essentially proselytizing. A kid with textbook borderline PD figured out that the teacher was a Christian, so suddenly claimed to be one as well. Big surprise. Who knows what the family was? But this teacher sounds clueless enough that the kid’s name could have been Hadassah Rosenfeld, and the teacher would have believed she came from a devout Christian family.

And the teacher does sound clueless. But then, she’s 26. That’s pretty freaking young. I suspect that maybe what passed for “rapport” with the students may have been overidentification. She was less than ten years older than some of them. Real rapport happens when a teacher is old enough to be a parent, and therefore, uncool be definition, but still manages to reach students.

I worked in a high school as an interpreter for a while (and I went to one, of course). I have seen teachers who want so much to be liked, that they give up on being authority figures, and try to be one of the gang. That’s not rapport. That’s capitulation.

Anyway, regardless of the student’s background, the texting was way, way out of bounds, and I suspect an attempt to keep up her reputation for being good with the kids.

But if she learns from this, she will be better in the long run, and as it seems she’s not getting fired, I think that’s good.

It doesn’t surprise me if the kid has uncontrolled borderline personality disorder - a person with BPD has badly broken boundaries, and this lack of boundaries will ‘infect’ someone that they’re close to. The pwBPD doesn’t see a dividing line between themselves and someone they are close to, and if the other person doesn’t realize what is going on will start to ignore their own boundaries. It starts off slow and gets worse, and the person won’t even realize that they’re doing it. Note that this is just an explanation of what I think happened, it doesn’t justify the teacher ignoring those rules.

Except that other teachers in the area say they text and meet students. So it’s apparently not out of line in their county.

and God-sharing outside of school hours is fine:

From the second article, we know that they don’t: