I don’t even want to bring up how many times I or some of my classmates got picked on in school by teachers, but when you see a rash of stories of kids being picked on by teachers, it leads you to ask yourself whether or not it’s the teachers who are the bullies, or the kids just being too soft.

Two stories, one concerns a teacher in Cherry Hill that parents claim is a bully.
Another involves a coach at North Hunterdon.

Again, you be the judge.

Parents of nine freshmen at Cherry Hill High School East say an English teacher has been harassing and bullying their children, in part by making racially charged remarks.

District officials say they are investigating the allegations by the parents, who have submitted a complaint to school officials accusing Kimberly Real of creating a hostile educational environment.

During one vocabulary lesson in February, the parents allege, Real said to students, "What's so bizarre about a black man going to jail?"

Six parents raised the issue at a school board meeting Tuesday, asking members to add language to the district's anti-bullying policy regarding behavior by staff members. School officials said the policy already applies to staff.

Of the 11 students remaining in the honors class, nine are not white, said Susan Levy Warner, whose daughter is in the class. The class originally had between 21 and 25 students, according to the complaint.

Other statements that troubled the parents related to gender - "If women were in charge of this world, we'd be a lot better off" - and to the intelligence level of the students.

Pointing to a female student, according to the complaint, Real said, "This girl isn't capable of writing."

She also told students, "A good essay shouldn't make me want to hurt myself or you," and, "I'm the best, you guys are stupid," according to the complaint.

Reviewing the statements, "some of them by themselves, you would say, this isn't so egregious," Warner said. Over time, however, repeated derogatory remarks have made students anxious and afraid, Warner said.

Warner said she became concerned about Real's teaching style in February, after her daughter, who had been complaining about the class and acting anxious, broke down one night crying and said she had been offended by statements Real made in class.
Warner said she contacted Real about her concerns but was not satisfied with the response.

Another parent, Karlyn Williams, said she also reached out to Real, asking how to help her son, who had been struggling in the class.

Williams, who had been pushing her son to work harder, said Real told her he needed to ask for help.

Williams' son, however, told his mother he had already asked, she said. His grades, normally A's or B's, had dropped dramatically, and he told his mother he felt overwhelmed.

Williams said she became more concerned when she got a call from Warner several weeks ago and learned other children were struggling academically and emotionally.
As parents prepared to meet, Williams said, she asked her son what Real had done that upset him.

Her son said a student in the class had mentioned the O.J. Simpson case and called it atypical. He said Real responded, "What's so atypical about a black man being tried for murder?" Williams said.

Williams' son, who is African American, told his mother that he was hurt by the remark but didn't speak up.

She said she asked other parents whether their children had heard the statement, and "everyone confirmed that it was said."

The parents contacted East principal John O'Breza on March 4. The school district received a formal complaint on March 13, said spokeswoman Susan Bastnagel.

The district's affirmative action officer - guidance director Jim Riordan - as well as high school and central administrators are investigating the complaint, Bastnagel said.

She would not address Real's employment status.

Which in my view should be…fire her!

And again, this comes from someone who, if you were to look at what we as kids went through in grammar and high school, would ordinarily think this to be no big deal.

the attorney for the school board, Brenda Liss was paid 19 thousand dollars to investigate allegations “that Chris “Spark” Mattson, Voorhees head baseball coach, had grabbed a student ballplayer by the neck during off-season play, had commented on a second student’s weight and made a third student bark like a seal in the locker room.

In her report, Liss writes that, “... as the allegations do not involve student-to-student behavior, ... we believe the HIB policy and procedure (and the statute on which they are based) are inapplicable.”

Which, according to the gay civil rights group Garden State Equality, the finding is dead wrong.

In other words, teacher on student bullying is covered by the anti bullying statues just as student on student bullying would be.

Which is the way it should be.

But it does raise a larger question.

Are our children too soft, or have we become more intolerant of teachers and figures of authority abusing their power?

Some will say the former, which is what I felt when I first saw the above two stories.

But remembering the Aiken Chaifetz story from last year,
one can’t help but think that perhaps mental evaluations along with classroom evaluations should be periodically given.

What say you?