Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Safer Science

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Safer Science

Article excerpt

Anger Management

Recently, as a freshman physical science class studied waves using ripple tanks, one student being off task was reminded several times to make the assigned observations on wave phenomena. The student got angry, lifted a stool over his head, and threw it down, breaking the stool and just missing another student. The teacher stated that the student's behavior was unacceptable and sent him to the office. On his way out, the angry student yanked the safety shower chain, spraying water near an electrical power source and light fixture close to a ripple tank setup. This was the third, and most serious, altercation with the student during the semester.

Later that day, concerned about the safety and security of the class, the teacher met with the assistant principal (AP) in charge of discipline. The AP told her he had advised the student to skip the class the next day "so things could calm down." The AP also supported the student's request to meet one-on-one with the science teacher. The science teacher objected, asking that the AP be there, too, for her personal safety. The AP said they must do what was best for the student!

Still uncomfortable with the planned meeting after returning to her office, the science teacher e-mailed the AP. She stated that she wanted to meet with the AP and the student together to review the unacceptable behavior, behavioral expectations in the lab, and a progressive discipline procedure for the student, including detention. The teacher also wanted the student to pay for the stool. The AP called the science teacher back to his office, orally reprimanded her for putting her concerns in writing, then proceeded to meet all of her demands!

So, was the teacher in the right? Let's look at legal considerations:

Employee protection: The OSHA Act gives workers in most school districts the right to safe and healthful working conditions (see "On the web"). This means freedom from security concerns like workplace violence. This standard gives workers the right to participate in activities to ensure their safety. …

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