SHIPROCK, N.M. – A New Mexico teachers union is fighting to reinstate a teacher recently fired from the Central Consolidated School District for refusing to allow a student to use the restroom.
The incident, which occurred during a drug sweep at Shiprock High School, resulted in the student urinating in class while other students recorded the act with their cell phones, according to news reports.
School officials haven’t identified the teacher or the students involved in the incident, but have collected the video footage and terminated the teacher, district spokesman James Preminger told the Daily Times.
“We believe this is a clear case where a teacher failed to use reasonable judgment,” Preminger told the news site.
The affected student notified the school principal about the Oct. 30 incident, and the principal reviewed two of three video recordings before making his decision. The third recording was deleted, the Daily Times reports.
The videos allegedly show the student repeatedly asking to use the restroom, and the teacher denying permission to leave the classroom. It occurred during a routine but unannounced lockdown, in which police officials brought a dog to search school grounds for drugs,KOB4 reports.
School officials told the television station teachers are required to keep students in their classrooms during a lockdown, but teachers are also supposed to use their best judgment during exceptional circumstances.
The restroom was 10 steps across the hall from the classroom in which the incident occurred, KOB4 reports.
“When there’s a lockdown when students lives may be threatened then obviously they can’t leave the room, but when there’s a drug dog there’s enough latitude there to allow a student to use the restroom,” principal Rick Edwards said.
Ewa Krakowska, director of the local teachers union, alleges the teacher was unaware other students were filming the incident, and “there’s no way (a teacher) can control every student,” according to the Daily Times.
The union’s excuses, however, don’t seem to address the fact that the teacher used very poor judgment by repeatedly refusing to allow the student to cross the hall.
The union formally appealed the teacher’s termination to the Central Consolidated School District board, and board members are expected to discuss the teacher’s termination tomorrow, the news site reports.