A Tampa Bay, Fla. school teacher has been suspended for three days without pay after allowing one of her students to write and present a speech that criticized a former Oakstead Elementary teacher by name.
Anik Pepin-Rossow told an employee relations supervisor that her intention was to boost the student’s confidence in public speaking through the Tropicana speech competition, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
The teacher in question, who was the subject of the speech titled “My Bad Teacher,” complained to the school after her son -- also a student at Oakstead -- overheard the comments during a schoolwide assembly and “had an emotional breakdown.”
Superintendent Heather Fiorentino scolded Pepin-Rossow in a formal letter of reprimand, saying that the child was "very upset that your student publicly gave a speech about her being the worst teacher ever."
In the speech, the student wrote that the "bad teacher" left the students with a substitute teacher who “told everyone to shut up” and forgot to take take students to a video on FCAT Writes -- the state's new rigorous writing exam -- but "brought it up on YouTube."
According to Fiorentino’s letter, Pepin-Rossow told principal Tammy Kimpland it was a "10-year-old’s speech for 10-year-olds," and that she did not anticipate a negative reaction seeing as how the speech would be delivered at a public assembly.
The Tampa Bay Times writes that “Fiorentino accused Pepin-Rossow of unprofessional misconduct for failure to protect students' well-being.”
Earlier this May, fellow Pasco County teacher Laurie Bailey-Cutkomp was also suspended without pay after reportedly putting dog collars on her students as punishment for bad behavior, such as drinking soda in class.
Although many students considered the “cone of shame” -- as it was so named -- a harmless joke, Fiorentino was not laughing, and recommended the 47-year-old Bailey-Cutkomp be fired for violating the state’s ethics codes.
In her letter to the science teacher, Fiorentino wrote that Bailey-Cutkomp’s actions showed “extremely poor judgment,” adding, “I am stunned that you would put dog collars on students for any reason.”
Just last week in New York City, fifth-grade student Kameron Slade was barred from delivering a speech for a schoolwide competition -- because the topic was a case in support of gay marriage.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott later said the student would be allowed to give his speech during a special assembly of fifth graders.
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