Local News

Second teacher investigated for political remarks

Posted November 13, 2008

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— Cumberland County Schools are investigating a complaint that a second teacher made partisan political comments in the classroom.

Parent Tenesia Jackson filed a complaint alleging that Melissa Smith, a teacher at Mac Williams Middle School, made disparaging comments about President-elect Barack Obama on Nov. 6, school-system spokeswoman Wanda McPhaul said.

In the complaint, Jackson said that her 11-year-old daughter and other students in Smith's social-studies class had talked about their excitement at Obama's election.

The complaint alleges that Smith told students not to be upset if their parents' tax dollars went to "a 13-year-old girl for an abortion." McPhaul said the complaint also accuses Smith of posing hypothetical questions, including: If you were a waitress, how would feel if your customer gave your tip to a homeless person who had an Obama sign?

Superintendent William Harrison and Principal Donna Hancock are investigating and will take appropriate action, McPhaul said. One parent complained about Smith's comments in class that day.

McPhaul has taught in Cumberland schools for 6½ years.

The school system's policy on political activity stipulates, "Under no circumstances are assemblies, school classes, or students to be used in partisan political activities during the school day."

The school system asked a lawyer to determine what disciplinary action it could take in the case of Mary McArthur Elementary School teacher Diatha Harris, into whose actions officials opened an investigation Nov. 7.

A video filmed by a Scandinavian documentary crew surfaced on YouTube showing Harris saying "Oh Lord" when a fifth-grader said her military parents supported John McCain. Harris later called the war in Iraq "senseless" and told the girl that McCain planned to keep U.S. troops in Iraq for 100 years, if necessary.

Harris has retained a lawyer to fight to keep her job, McPhaul said. She remained employed by the school system and was still teaching at McArthur on Thursday.

30 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • ++Ajax++ Nov 14, 2008

    Actually Dr Dataclerk, I am just not going to get into an argument with someone who has no experience in dealing with middle school students. I'll give you an example of what I meant in my original post. In class the other day I had told my students that smoking cigarettes was not a habit, it was an addiction to the drug nicotine. Imagine my surprise when the parent came to school the next day and said that her child said I called her a drug addict. This is an example how students hear 1 thing but tell parents another. But you wouldn't know because you have no experience. If the teacher did in fact say what the parent claims then the teacher should be disciplined as the other teacher in Cumberland county has. But please spare me the smug remarks. In the battle of wits...... you're unarmed.

  • thepeopleschamp Nov 14, 2008

    If they do fire the teachers for what they said, can we please start expelling students from school who physically threaten teachers?

  • Dr. Dataclerk Nov 14, 2008

    This incident should teach all teachers in NC that the parents will not tolerate that kind of talk and threats to their children. Teachers be very careful what you say and where you are at - students may be listening in. lol I maintain the two teachers should be terminated from their teaching job. They will not be effected in their particular schools now. They have shown their other side.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Nov 14, 2008

    I see deedeedee don't have much to say since the truth is facing her. lol

  • Dr. Dataclerk Nov 14, 2008

    Understand people

    Hello, on this board we have just as much education, intelligent, morals, know how to treat and talk to children/students, show respect, etc. So understand what? Maybe you are the one having a hard time understanding. You would if was not covering up for your co-teachers. :)

  • Dr. Dataclerk Nov 14, 2008

    reading quotes from a second hand source.

    What source would that be? Who will be saving your job since you are doing your best trying to save these teachers job when you know they were wrong.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Nov 14, 2008

    For once I agree with Dr. Dataclerk. This is not what they are there to teach. This is why kids are failing in reading, writing, and arithmetic.
    ridgerunner

    Thanks. You made my day.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Nov 14, 2008

    Understand people that you are reading quotes from a second hand source. As a public school teacher I can tell you that what is said by a teacher is not always what is heard by a student. They tend to be very egocentric and hear what they want to hear not necessarily what is said.
    deedeedee

    Thanks for covering-up for your co-worker teacher. Nice job. But you know what I do not buy it like many others. I heard and listened to the video that was played in the news. The two teachers should be fired. Do you have a job for your co-worker teacher? How stupid do you think students are that they do not hear what the teachers are talking about. This is a new day, honey. Where have you been? Kids are a lot smarter than you are giving them credit for. Oh, and you say you are a teacher. Hmmm.......I don't know about the creditability. :)

  • ++Ajax++ Nov 14, 2008

    Understand people that you are reading quotes from a second hand source. As a public school teacher I can tell you that what is said by a teacher is not always what is heard by a student. They tend to be very egocentric and hear what they want to hear not necessarily what is said.

  • ridgerunner Nov 14, 2008

    If they have not fired the first one why bother the second? For once I agree with Dr. Dataclerk. This is not what they are there to teach. This is why kids are failing in reading, writing, and arithmetic.

More...