Update: The Collier County School District has officially agreed with PETA and the family of the harassed student, saying that Mary Ellen Alexander “acted insensitively and inappropriately.” The school board reassigned her to another school, is requiring her to be retrained, and has placed a disciplinary letter in her district and state files.
The district is also considering replacing animal dissection with modern, humane alternatives, which PETA has offered to supply.
The following was originally posted on February 22, 2011.
School bullying usually involves a student making another student miserable. But in a new twist, a Florida teacher reportedly bullied and taunted a student simply for exercising her legal right to choose not to dissect a frog. Now the Florida State Board of Education, prompted by PETA’s call for the termination of the teacher, has opened an investigation.
|dan zen/cc by 2.0|
According to the seventh grader and her mother, the North Naples Middle School teacher snuck up behind the student, shoved a bag of dead frogs in her face, and then dropped the bag on her desk. When the student began to cry, the teacher laughed at her in front of her classmates. The teacher then allegedly told students in other classes that if they tried to opt out of dissection, they would be sent to the principal’s office for disciplinary action.
Not only did this teacher apparently violate students’ right under Florida law to opt out of dissection, her reported behavior also may have violated the School Board of Collier County’s policy against bullying and harassment and the Florida Department of Education’s Code of Ethics. North Naples Middle School’s principal initially told the student’s mother that she would not be taking any action—the school district and state board of education stepped in only after PETA and the media became involved.
We are calling on school district and state officials to remove this teacher from her post and revoke her state educator’s certificate if the student’s report is corroborated. We have also offered to buy the school modern, humane computer programs in order to allow the school to replace dissection entirely.
In this violent world, students’ feelings of empathy for animals are a virtue that should be fostered, not belittled, by their educators and mentors.
Written by Michelle Sherrow