Legal Cases Involving Teacher Conduct

Being a classroom teacher is not an easy role because they bear great responsibility to their students’ learning. Teachers play an important factor in a student’s path towards finishing his or her studies and creating a good future. Without teachers, the educational system would not be so effective in preparing students for the life ahead. However, there are some teachers who abuse their power. The following cases show teacher conduct that is far from acceptable and deserves the verdict. Case 1

Social networking websites are not just popular to students, but to their teachers as well. That was the case with Jeffrey Spanierman, who teaches at Emmett O’Brien High School in Connecticut. He has created his own MySpace account, reasoning out that it facilitates communication with his students about homework, learning about students so that he can relate to them, and conducting discussions not related to school. Eventually one of his fellow teachers grew concerned of Spanierman’s MySpace, saying that the teacher’s page had pictures of naked men with “inappropriate comments.

” In addition, the concerned teacher worried about what Spanierman and his students talked about, so she convinced him to remove his page. Spanierman did, but created one containing the same content and had the same personal communication with the students. The colleague decided to bring the subject to the administration, which then sanctioned Spanierman to an administrative leave. Later on, the school refused to renew his teaching contract, believing that Spanierman “exercised poor judgment as a teacher” (Neuburger, 2008).

During the evaluation, the school district believed that Spanierman’s activities on his MySpace page could upset school activities. The federal court’s rejection of Spanierman’s renewing his teaching contract was just right because Spanierman made a mistake that could well affect his students. Case 2 This case has been filed as Robert Warren v. Reading School District in Pennsylvania. Robert Warren was a minor who transferred to the Reading School District’s Tenth and Green Elementary School in 1995. His teacher was Harold Brown.

Just a little while after the transfer, Brown began requesting Robert to remain after school. Brown would lock the classroom and ask Robert to participate in a “game” that the teacher called “shoulders. ” This game indicated that Robert should squat, with his head between Brown’s legs and his shoulders beneath Brown’s thighs. After which Robert would lift Brown’s upper body from the squatting position. As Robert did this, Brown would lean forward, thus his genitals would touch Robert’s head and neck. Every “game,” Brown “rewarded” him with candy or money. This incident happened a few times in a week.

There was even one time when Brown picked Robert up from his house to go to a “secret spot” where they played more “shoulders. ” This game was later on identified as a form of masturbation. Eventually, Robert’s mother, Lori Good, learned of this through one of Robert’s journal entries. After talking to her son about it, Good approached the Berks County Children and Youth Services. The agency reported the abuse to the school district. Brown got suspended, and later on he resigned. This case also involved the school’s principal, Dr. Sepulveda, and the former superintendent of the school, Dr.

James Goodhart. The investigation of the case showed that Sepulveda’s policies for students were defective and not “conducive to protecting the health, safety, or welfare of the students. ” Moreover, Sepulveda and Goodhart were questioned regarding the lack of action despite the level of activity taking place in Brown’s classroom. Added to this is the fact that Brown has victimized other students too (United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, 2002). The verdict for the school district was $400,000 because it was proven that it did not ensure the safety of its students. It was fair enough, and schools should be stricter when it comes to evaluating teachers before hiring them.


  • Neuburger, J. D. (2008). Teacher fired for inappropriate behavior on MySpace page. Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved February 12, 2009, from http://www. pbs. org/mediashift/2008/10/teacher-fired-for-inappropriate-behavior-on-myspace-page289. html
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. (2002). Robert Warren v. Reading School District. Retrieved February 12, 2009, from http://caselaw. lp. findlaw. com/cgi-bin/getcase. pl? court=3rd&navby=case&no=001148