By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]
The Prince George’s County Educators Association (PGCEA) is prepared to stand behind a Largo High School Spanish teacher who has been charged with abusing a student while retaliating to what may have been a classroom assault that was captured on cellphone video before going viral.
PGCEA President Theresa Mitchell Dudley called the incident “a horrific symptom of several issues in Prince George’s County Public Schools” in a public statement following the well chronicled fight on Nov. 15. Vivian Noirie, of Clinton, Maryland, has been charged with physical child abuse and second-degree assault for her role in the altercation that appears to have been initiated by the student. Noirie remains on administrative leave pending the outcome of the ongoing investigation as law enforcement authorities continue determining whether the student will face juvenile charges. She has retained personal legal counsel but the Association will not let her face the charges without support despite Noirie not being a member of the union.
“I’ve told many of the people [we] represent there, ‘But for the grace of God go I,’” said Dudley in an exclusive interview. “We will support her independently and are prepared to defend all of our teacher’s rights to be treated fairly in the workplace because this is a safety issue.”
Among the concerns that Mitchell Dudley expressed, is what the union perceives to be an inherent disrespect for authority from students and parents in the classroom. The union president says a reality show TV culture and a lack of participation by parents in the PTA are contributing to making the learning process dangerous for teachers, students and administrators.
Mitchell Dudley explained she feels that the media consumption habits of families have “desensitized” people of the community and many have lost a sense of respect for authority figures and each other.
“[The] Jerry Springer culture of our society that condones violence, publicizes it as a virtue, and accepts it as a norm, must cease from students, parents, and administrators because [they] are the adults in the room,” Mitchell Dudley said.
“There is a sense that as an educator we should continue to keep taking abuse, threats and assaults from students, parents and administrators because we are the adults in the room,” the statement reads. “Educators are human and need the same emotional and mental support as students to ensure that situations are appropriately addressed.”
Mitchell Dudley also feels that Kirwan Commission (The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education) funding) could help exacerbate improvement in the relationships between staff and the community. The funds could be used for support including “timely assistance from the administration on root causes of behavior and implementation of necessary supports to address and improve student behavior.”
“The PTA is a parent’s strongest weapon to keep them informed,” Mitchell Dudley said. “A strong mix of parents and teachers collaborating makes for a strong PTA.”
She also added that the County should scale back on the amount of real estate development when there aren’t an adequate number of schools to accommodate the rise in the number of pupils throughout the school system.