Teacher Fired For Saying 'Sandy Hook' During Safety Drill Inspired By Sandy Hook
So here's an important lesson for teachers everywhere: You need to prepare children for emergencies, but never ever tell them why, because it might upset a parent. GiGi Kearns, a supervisor of after-school programs for a private contractor in New York, was let go because she explained what Sandy Hook shooting was during a lockdown drill for elementary school kids. We'll assume that her former employer, SCOPE Education Services of Suffolk County, Long Island, is also planning to tell instructors who run fire drills not to mention fires. The dismissal of Kearns seems excessive, as she doesn't appear to have mentioned gay marriage, not even once.
Kearns, who had worked for SCOPE for 14 years, told CBS New York that she got into trouble after running a lockdown drill for about 30 students at Dickinson Elementary in East Northport. In the middle of the drill, a group of kids started laughing and goofing around, and, according to Kearns, another child shouted to knock it off and said, "We are doing this drill because of Sandy Hook." Another child asked what Sandy Hook was, and Kearns, like a big dummy, went and explained it in what she says was an age-appropriate manner:
“I am a retired NYC police officer trained to speak with children on sensitive subjects such as Sandy Hook,” Kearns said.
That’s when she said she calmly and sensitively explained the shooting[.]
One parent complained to the school because Kearns showed the kids photos of children being escorted from the building, parents crying, and a SWAT team. The parent reportedly said that young children need to be shielded from that sort of thing. Which kind of makes you wonder what on earth they're supposed to be told about why they're sheltering kids in a locked supply closet and not moving until the all-clear is given. Kearns insists that her approach was to be reassuring, not scary:
“I started showing them how I would protect them if anything happened. I think that is what they gravitated towards. There was no fear involved,” Kearns said.
SCOPE released an anodyne press release explaining that Kearns was being terminated and offering this assurance: "We are aware of concerns of parents. All decisions are made in best interest of children attending our programs." (A company spokesperson refused to elaborate on what SCOPE has against definite articles.)
Parents have started a change.org petition calling for Kearns's reinstatement, and kids at the school, who apparently liked Ms. Kearns a heck of a lot, have also started one of those adorable kid-made petitions on lined paper, complete with red numbers for each signature.
Haha, that will not sway a private contractor. SCOPE has also refused to meet with parents who wanted to express their support for Kearns, because reasons. We imagine SCOPE is preparing a response that says, "Decision made. Lady fired. You go away now."
A parent at the school, Bill Blaney, wrote in the Huffington Post that he appreciated Kearns's work, and that his son had been one of the misbehaving kids. Kearns's explanation, he wrote, was entirely appropriate:
GiGi quietly pulled them aside and emphasized to them why it was very important to follow their directions. One child brought up Sandy Hook. She responded - explaining that a bad man can come into a school and hurt others, and how important it is to trust your teachers.
Although we suppose some Men's Rights moron will complain that it's possible a female mass murderer is just as serious a threat. Blaney also believes SCOPE fired Kearns because the company was worried parents would learn SCOPE hadn't provided "procedures and policies for the lockdown" drills, and that it has been completely unresponsive to parents' complaints about the firing. His conclusion on the lesson for teachers is that "if a child asks about Sandy Hook, ignore them -- or lose your job."
And there's your lesson for today in how the private sector is making education more efficient and profitable.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.