Wear jeans, go to jail? In upstate New York, the superintendent called in a sheriff’s deputy to remove two teachers from their classrooms because they’d defied a ban on blue jeans.
After a week of contentious debate over “dress down days,” Robert L. Nyitrai and Michael Huttner, teachers in the Starpoint Central School District, were escorted from their morning classes Friday. Both Superintendent Douglas C. Whelan and the teachers, leaders of the Starpoint Teachers Association, point to long-stalled contract talks as the underlying cause.
Both the teachers are union leaders. The superintendent says the teachers are in violation of the contract. He’d sent a memo asking teachers not to wear jeans, T-shirts or other casual clothing.
Both Nyitrai and Huttner wore jeans to their classrooms on Thursday, and were reprimanded by their respective principals, according to both sides.
Nyitrai said that other teachers planned to wear jeans on Fridays in protest of their discipline. At scheduled contract negotiation talks Thursday night, Whelan and district negotiators asked that teachers refrain from “dressing down,” to which Nyitrai said union representatives agreed, but not until Monday, as teachers had already made plans for Friday. Both Nyitrai and Huttner wore jeans to class on Friday, and Huttner sent an e-mail to all Starpoint teachers.
“Well, it’s after homeroom and into first period. I’m still here!” Huttner wrote in an e-mail obtained by the News. “And, I must admit — looking very stylish in my blue jeans.”
A staffer showed the e-mail to the superintendent, who called in the sheriff.
It’s too bad no students were interviewed for the story. They must have zero respect for their teachers and principals at this point. The adults are more juvenile than the juveniles.