Education

Raleigh teacher says school administrators ignored threats

Posted May 10, 2011

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— A Raleigh high school teacher whom police say was poisoned by one of her students says there was a history of threats against her that school administrators ignored.

On the morning of April 7, Roseann Monteleone, a business teacher at Leesville Road High School, passed out in the school bathroom after drinking from a can of Coca-Cola.

"I knew, instantly, that it had been tampered with," Monteleone, 46, recalled. "I couldn't breathe. I had no idea who would have done this."

Immediately after drinking from the can, she said, she felt an extreme burning in her throat.

"Everything started to go black," she said.

Monteleone was taken to Rex Hospital in Raleigh, where she doctors found she had also suffered lesions in her throat.

Raleigh police arrested senior Cody Austin Beckett, 18, of 5205 Indigo Moon Way, and charged him with assault on a school employee after he admitted to putting hand cleaner in Monteleone's open soda while she was out of the classroom.

His attorney, Dan Boyce, said Beckett didn't mean any harm and that the act was meant to be a high school prank.

Roseann Monteleone Teacher says administrators ignored threats

Four months earlier, Monteleone says, she received a threat in the form of a note with "You're done" written on it.

The next day, she said, someone had drawn a gun on the board.

Monteleone says the school system didn't take the threat seriously, and she says school administrators told the school resource officer they would handle the matter.

School officials say they were only aware of the complaint involving the drawing on the board. They say that police investigated it but were never able to prove who was responsible.

"Her principal monitored the situation and was vigilant for several weeks and months after the fact to make sure that she was indeed safe," Wake County Public School System spokesman Michael Evans said.

Monteleone says the school system does not do enough to ensure teachers' safety.

School leaders disagree, pointing to a survey where more than 93 percent of teachers in Wake County said they felt secure in their workplace.

"If an employee has concerns about their safety, there's a variety of ways to let those concerns be known," Evans said.

Dangerous offenses, like what happened to Monteleone, are down, Evans said. Last year, there were 81 incidents. So far this school year, there are 36.

But Monteleone says she is concerned about how those incidents are handled.

She thinks administrators are reluctant to use strong punishments such as long-term suspensions.

"There is an underlying fear of, 'Well, what happens if the parents sue us?"

"Whether somebody will or will not sue us is not really a consideration," Evans said.

Monteleone says she hopes her talking about what happened to her will bring awareness and a change.

"This happened to me," she said. "I don't ever want this to happen to anybody else."

109 Comments

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  • kmarshburn70 May 12, 2011

    @ncdixie1 - have you ever been a teacher? If not, then please do not compare the appropriateness of a teacher having a soda during class to the "working class plight". I have been a teacher for 18 years and have also worked in other settings. There is NO comparison - I challenge you to come to work with me for 1 week and teach for 4 hours without a drink. As far as a break goes I get to use the bathroom about once a day whether I need to or not and I get a twenty minute lunch (which includes escorting kids to and from the cafeteria. In my other working class job, I got to eat whenever I wanted and I could keep snacks and drinks in my workspace. I also never had to worry I might wet my pants during the middle of performing my job. Regardless of any of that, one human being should not have to worry that another human being would tamper with their food or beverage - ever. That is the real issue here.

  • kmarshburn70 May 12, 2011

    I taught in Wake county for 15 years at the middle school level. A student threatened me in front of three parents once and I took him seriously. I reported it immediately to my principal who asked me if I may have misunderstood him. This was after the 3 parent witnesses wrote statements saying they feared for my safety. I finally told my principal that she needed to choose who she wanted in her school...that I would be leaving in 5 minutes. She literally met me at the door and the student was suspended. Six months later he was arrested for murder in downtown Raleigh. He had a long history of violent behavior towards students and teachers alike in his file. Just this week I have found 5 of my former 8th graders in the Wake county arrest report for felonies. They may be kids to some of you but they are still capable of violence. Teachers have very little rights or protection under current policies.

  • thepeopleschamp May 11, 2011

    "I hope that higher authorities will come in and do some investigating on the gangs,drugs and weapons that are brought in." writNEWlaws

    Exactly what does this mean? Would you like there to be a SWAT team raid in the school? Maybe Jack Bauer from CTU to interview 2000 students one by one. "Need to investigate" = overused cliche of the day. Let me speed this up...there are drugs, gangs, weapons in a lot of schools nationwide, but there are no magic wands to make that stuff go away. Investigation concluded.

  • thepeopleschamp May 11, 2011

    "Lets say for an example that threats are made to kill you kill you at your workplace. You informed your employer and nothing is ever done. Then, all of a sudden some makes an attempt on your life. Who is at fault?" yabo2k3

    Again, the person at fault is the one commiting the crime, period. If it is KNOWN who made the threat then they should deal with them. The whole point is she didn't make the school aware of the 1st threat. The 2nd threat (drawing a picture of a gun) isn't even a threat. Punish the person who has poisoned her, but there is no call to sue people who had nothing to do with the suspects actions.

  • Cru_is_Back May 11, 2011

    As a teacher I can relate to this. On many occasions my life has been verbally threatned. It may not be the administrators fault. (Just speculating) but the student may have a behavioral disorder that is federally protected. You literally cannot suspend these kids for anything. They do something a normal kid would get suspended for but they just kep coming back with a slap on the wrist. It's really a liscense to do and say whatever as they hide behind their "disorder". If this is not the case then the kid is just a punk who deserves prison time for attempted murder.

  • JAT May 11, 2011

    When this story first broke, I said the teacher shouldn't have been drinking in the classroom. Wonder if the same ones who slammed me for saying it will "assault" the others on here who apparently feel the same way.

  • JAT May 11, 2011

    Writ - but it's her JOB - to teach. There's no reason she can't return to the classroom as soon as she's able to speak and resume teaching again. I'd have to do that; you'd have to do that; why can't she? I would hope the kid has been punished and wouldn't be allowed to be in her classroom. Nothing is stopping her.

  • weesiebaby May 11, 2011

    I feel so sorry for the teacher. I hope she recovers from this horrible ordeal. As for the student he should get a harsh punishment for what he did. He knew exactly what he was doing. Tampering with someones drink is not a prank but a crime. I am wondering if this kid was black would alot of you still be defending him? He should have went to jail but instead he was released to his parents.

  • djofraleigh May 11, 2011

    Why doesn't the schools remove the sanitizers from classrooms and the school?

  • djofraleigh May 11, 2011

    Nothing, not even the administrators can stop the teacher from filing charges against a student and getting a restraining order. She isn't teaching special rights children.

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