Teacher fired for breaking up fight with broom

A Detroit public school teacher was fired after she used a broomstick in an attempt to break up a fight between two large teenage boys, reports Richard Fernandez on Belmont Club. The two boys crashed into tables and battered each other as classmates screamed.

One of the children, really the size of a man, emotionally recounted his trauma at being hit by the broom though his mother expressed the hope that a suitable monetary compensation would go far to allay his distress.

Teachers are supposed to use a two-way radio to call a security guard when students are fighting. The radio didn’t work, said the teacher, a small woman who’d been hired in January.

Does it surprise you to learn that Pershing High is a very low-performing school? No, it doesn’t.

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  1. Quilterjean says:

    Wow! I graduated from there over 40 years ago . . .don’t think I would feel safe there now. And it wasn’t a low-performing school then . . .quite challenging I some classes.

  2. Miller Smith says:

    Rules for teacher intervention into a fight at my school is DO NOT TOUCH! STAY BACK FROM THE FIGHT. If you attempt to physically break up a fight and you get injured you will be denied worker’s comp. If a student gets injured while you are touching them during a fight you will be personally liable for all damages…the school system throws the teacher under the bus. Call for help only…nothing else are you to do.

    • And if a student is seriously injured while you do nothing, you will be sued and the school district will blame you.

      • Miller Smith says:

        Stacy, you could not be more wrong. Teachers can’t be required to intervene in a fight due to not being hired based on physical ability and not being trained to stop a violent fight. Teachers are immune from civil prosecution for not physically intervening in a fight and in fact are prosecuted for doing so if they touch a fighting child and the child claims assault.

        The school system is also immune so long as the teacher called for security and they physically intervene. Every injured teen at my school sues the parents of the other child in the fight. Lawyers don’t even try to sue the school or teachers due to the legal bar to doing so.

      • Miller Smith says:

        So wrong Paul…so wrong. So long as the teacher calls for help and the help that comes is qualified to touch the students and does so, then all civil suits against teachers or the school are barred by law. Lawyers won’t even touch it.

        • I’m glad to know you live in a universe where lawyers won’t file suits they know they won’t win, in the hopes that an insurance agency or individual won’t settle just to avoid the cost of the suit.

          I don’t have the fortune of living in that world.

          • Miller Smith says:

            You do live in that world Paul. Such cases are barred by law. They are dismissed on first hearing and the plaintiff has to pay the court costs and legal fees of the defendant. That is what a bar against action is all about.

        • GEORGE LARSON says:

          Is this true in every state?

          • Miller Smith says:

            Every state has the same-even Louisiana. Boy punches girl in face. She falls. He kicks her in the head and she dies…on the spot. Why would you sue the school?

          • Miller Smith says:

            Even in the Columbine case the school system and teachers had immunity. The only case that went forward against the police was were they prevented medical personnel from getting to a bleeding teacher.

          • Michael E. Lopez says:

            Mr. Smith,

            I understand you feel strongly about this. But you shouldn’t issue blanket proclamations about what you think the law is in jurisdictions in which you’re not licensed to practice.

            I’m sure that, on some level, the rules are as you say in the jurisdiction in which you live and/or work. And I’m sure that there are a number of other jurisdictions with startlingly similar rules. You may even be referencing the Coverdell act, a federal law which provides certain immunities to school personnel. But that act only provides certain limited immunities for teachers who are executing their school’s policies — and it’s not at all clear that non-intervention is the official policy in every state. Moreover, it’s not even clear that such policies are always set at the state level, meaning that certain counties or districts might have different standards for their teachers.

            But just the fact that you think that you automatically have to pay legal fees because a “bar against action” is in place alerts me to the fact that you aren’t any sort of expert on education law, and that you may be leading many educators who read this blog astray with your reckless, sweeping generalizations about the state of the law.

          • This is not true in every state. Mr. Miller doesn’t understand any legal system in the U.S., which is that any one can sue any one for any reason.

            Also, state immunity claims go by the wayside if case is filed in federal court, since the 14th amendment comes into play (Due process and equal protection clauses).

            A good lawyer will bypass state courts in favor of federal jurisdiction when the state pulls qualified immunity issues (which usually don’t work, when there is a documented history of abuse).

            More often than not, most of these cases are settled out of court, appearing as a budget item in a school board meeting each month (happens all the time here in Clark County, NV – nation’s 5th largest school district).

            In fact there is a case where school police advertised a booze party using school equipment, and a underage kid got drunk and killed another student. The lawsuit is in federal court now, and has been allowed to proceed to trial (the district will settle this mess before the trial even starts, due to risk management).

            Mr. Smith should go to law school before making outrageous claims 🙂

        • GEORGE LARSON says:

          Now I understand why schools sometimes call the police for what appear to me “minor” problems in discipline.

  3. Stacy in NJ says:

    In Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy, a male teacher uses a bull whip to drive unruly students from his class.

  4. A broom? Really?…not guilty

    ….and the kid interview? He doesn’t feel he was anyway responsible for the fight? How ’bout interviewing the OTHER kid who was losing the fight how he feels about the teacher saving his A$$ from a worse beating?

    • “You do live in that world Paul. Such cases are barred by law. They are dismissed on first hearing and the plaintiff has to pay the court costs and legal fees of the defendant. That is what a bar against action is all about.”

      Glad you’re so sure that the rules even mean anything anymore. As has been proven from the federal level to the state levels to the local levels, the rules mean next to nothing anymore… They’re selectively enforced and ignored at will these days.

  5. Mike in Texas says:

    Guess who will be blamed when the thug doesn’t pass his state tests?

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      I think the answer you are looking for is “teachers.” Which is one reason why I wish my union would make it a priority to get kids like this out of regular classrooms (where they keep other kids from learning) and into something where they can actually learn things that will be useful to them.

    • Mark Roulo says:

      True. Also, it sucks that the Detroit public school teachers aren’t part of a union. A union could have fought this.

    • Blamed? In what sense? A reduction in pay? Dismissal? Flogging?

      I’m pretty sure none of those punishments is in the future for this teacher if the thug doesn’t pass his state tests.

      • Mike in Texas says:

        There won’t be punishment b/c she’s already been fired, read the story. However, I’m sure there are 5 or 6 other teachers at the school who teach this same student who be personally blamed for his failure to pass the state tests.

        • So, dodging the question. Again.

          First, the teacher in question’s been reinstated. The district officials weren’t quite ready to answer question about what she should have done to retain her job so, looking out for their own interests, she’s back on the job.

          But as I asked, in what sense would any teacher at the school be blamed? Get their grandma to come to school and waggle a finger at them?

          Come on Mike, this “blame” thing seems a trifle vague. How about a description of the fearsome form “blaming” will take.

          • Mike in Texas says:


            Sure, in your reality teachers aren’t held accountable for student test scores. Unfortunately for you, your reality doesn’t exist.

          • So how’s this “accountability” work? Do lousy teachers get their walking papers? Do terrific teachers get bonuses?

            Do tell about this reality in which teachers are held accountable for your performance.

  6. Kirk Parker says:

    “It goes without saying that was wrong”.


    Hint to clueless news-babe: you’re part of the problem, sister!

    • Miller Smith says:

      Remember Columbine? All but one lawsuit against the school system and the government were dismissed based on Sovereign Immunity. Evidence of refusal to allow life saving medical treatment was the reason that a teacher’s family was allowed to have their suit go forward.

      For a teacher who does not physically try to break up a fight there is a legal bar against lawsuits in every State in the Union. Imagine if it were otherwise.

      • Michael E. Lopez says:

        I usually don’t have much patience with people who troll blog comment sections and BBS’s demanding citations and authority for anything they disagree with. It’s petty and juvenile — most of the time.

        Here, though, I’ll make an exception because Mr. Smith is stating a conclusion of law, and a sweeping one at that. So a a practicing attorney and a scholar in the field of education, I’m invoking what little authority I have to make the following observation:

        While it is possible that, on some level of legal interpretation, Mr. Smith might not be grossly in error in his legal conclusions, it is the case both that (a) the absolute rule he claims to be in place is exceedingly unlikely to exist (and if it does that it’s not as absolute as he intimates); and (b) that he has demonstrated that he doesn’t have a strong grasp of the law to begin with by making statements that I categorically know to be false.

        So I’m advising anyone reading this not to take his posts too much to heart unless and until he provides citations either to cases or statutes backing up his claim.

        If you have questions about appropriate intervention techniques and policies, check with an attorney or at least a licensed education professional specializing in this sort of policy work in your jurisdiction.

        • Miller Smith says:

          Mr. Lopez, as an attorney are you saying that you have never heard of Sovereign Immunity? That would be shocking. Go look at the Columbine cases. Look at the absolute bars to plaintiff actions against the school system and the police.

          How about this one Lawyer: You call the 911 and tell them that someone is breaking into you house. The cops don’t come. You hide in your bedroom on the phone with 911 as the criminal is rumaging through your home. The cops don’t come. You are then raped. The cops don’t come. Do you have a legal leg to stand on to sue the cops and/or the municipality? Hint: This is a famous Supreme Court case. Your test begins now.

          • Michael E. Lopez says:

            The fact that you’re citing to a case about police response (with which I’m quite familiar) in a discussion about teacher responsibility to children entrusted to the school system demonstrates beyond a doubt that you’ve no real idea what you’re talking about.

            Sovereign Immunity is a very, very complex doctrine. It’s also (primarily) a judicial/common law doctrine that can (and has been at many points) easily overruled by statute.

            Just stop, please.

          • Miller Smith says:

            No Lawyer, you stop. Explain the Columbine Sovereign Immunity and why the parents of the slaughtered kids couldn’t sue the school system for a failure to protect the children. Come on Lawyer…tell us why the parents failed in their cases.

  7. Miller Smith says:


    Christ Lawyer! The above is all about children being killed while under the control and/or supervision of state authorities. Sovereign immunity!