View Full Version : Teacher Booted for Displaying President's Picture

10-04-2004, 01:02 PM

<font color="blue">The "tolerance" party is at it again /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif </font color>

Monday, Oct. 4, 2004 11:11 a.m. EDT

A New Jersey middle school teacher who displayed a portrait of the president of the United States in her classroom side-by-side with pictures of other U.S. presidents and the Declaration of Independence was thrown out of her school on Friday for refusing to take the Bush photo down.

"I'm requiring that you take the picture down," Shiba Pillai-Diaz says she was told by Mark Daniels, assistant principal at the Crossroads South Middle School in Monmouth Junction. The teacher refused and now faces dismissal for insubordination.

According to Pillai-Diaz, who recounted the incident to WABC Radio's Steve Malzberg on Sunday, Daniels told her he had consulted with the school's principal, Jim Warfel.
The consensus: "We decided that there was a very destructive atmosphere in your classroom and that you're going around the school spreading your political views."

But Pillai-Diaz - an admitted Bush enthusiast who attended the GOP convention - said she leaves her politics at home when she comes to work. "I don't discuss politics [in my classroom]. I wouldn't go near it with a ten-foot pole," she told Malzberg.

The trouble started Thursday during parents night, when one mom complained about the Bush picture and demanded that Pillai-Diaz explain: "What is he doing up there? Don't you think you should have the other side also?"

"Having the picture up wasn't in any way political," she responded. "He's the current president. The picture was sent to my fourth-grade class last year."

The photo was "next to my desk on a bulletin board that had the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution [and] some printing from Ben Franklin's printing press" in a display that had nothing to do with politics, Pillai-Diaz told Malzberg.

After the initial complaints, parents e-mailed school officials claiming that the teacher had suppressed the free speech of her students - with some questioning why she liked George Bush even though "he's killed people."

In a Friday morning meeting with Principal Warfel, Pillai-Diaz says she was told: "You have caused more disruption to this school and to these students with your partisanship and your hatred and your inflammatory ways. Get yourself and get out of the building."

<font color="blue"> Let's see..."pic of current Prez" = "hate" /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif

When all else fails start calling names /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif </font color>

But Warfel may not have had the last word on the dispute. New Jersey Sen. Jon Corzine, who followed Pillai-Diaz on Malzberg's show, said Monmouth Junction school officials had gone overboard.
"If it's just a straight-up picture of George Bush and Laura, then I don't understand the issue at all," the leading Democrat said. "I don't see why [a picture] of the president of the United States can't be displayed."
Sen. Corzine promised to help Pillai-Diaz if she contacts his office.

10-04-2004, 02:34 PM
That's good news.............

10-04-2004, 07:20 PM
So sad,if the superintendent does not take action against the principle they all should be canned.

10-04-2004, 10:27 PM
If the whole story is that the teacher just put up the picture of the President with no political agenda, then the teacher is totally justified and the Principal and parents are way off base. But I'm wondering if there isn't a bit more to this story. In the interest of "making news" often a lot of details are left out to make the story more compelling (like the McDonald's coffee spill lawsuit story).

10-04-2004, 11:16 PM
I think your right Ross, there has to be more to cause this big of a stink.

10-05-2004, 07:21 AM
I read another version of this story online (drudge?) yesterday. In that telling, the picture of President Bush was displayed near existing pictures of all the past presidents. A parent had asked that the Bush picture be removed unless one of Kerry were posted also. I guess that parent thought Kerry was already a president!


10-05-2004, 09:26 AM
I think this was the picture:

10-05-2004, 09:43 AM
I think the parent wanted the pic out cause it is just plane ugly. /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif

there has to be more to it then just what the story says, there is nothing wrong with posting up a pic of W with other current presidents, that is just plane silly, beside you could use it for target practice /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif

10-05-2004, 10:06 AM
As I thought. The TV "hateful Democrats" spin was based only on the teacher's version of events. Here is an account from the other side:

October 3, 2004

District Statement Regarding Bulletin Board at Crossroads Middle School

In an incident that has recently been reported to several media sources, a claim has been made by South Brunswick Middle School teacher Shiba Pillai-Diaz, that she was fired for not removing a picture of President George W. Bush from a classroom bulletin board. The claim is false. While I am normally reluctant to discuss personnel matters in public, Ms. Pillai-Diaz’ distortions of the facts, along with her aggressive efforts to get herself national media attention, leave us no choice but to set the record straight.

The facts are as follows:

Ms. Pillai-Diaz is a new Language Arts teacher in the South Brunswick Schools. Recently, the school administration began receiving complaints from students and parents that Ms. Pillai-Diaz was using her position, classroom and teaching time to engage in partisan politics. Students reported that she had made statements which denigrated one party over the other. The conversations included Ms. Pillai-Diaz telling some students who offered opinions contrary to her statements, that she was “glad they were not old enough to vote.” Other comments to students, including such statements as, “you should be ashamed to be a Democrat” have been verified through student interviews.

A classroom bulletin board, normally intended for curriculum-related matters, was set up as what she herself described as a “personal bulletin board.” On the bulletin board she placed a picture of the President, the President’s dog, the Oval Office and several other Presidential artifacts. In addition, she placed a stuffed elephant on a classroom cabinet, which generated student reaction and discussion about partisan politics. Following receipt of complaints from parents, the Assistant Principal met with Ms. Pillai-Diaz and cautioned her not to engage in partisan political discussions in her Language Arts classes. He did not initially ask her to remove the picture of the President. As the issue grew in intensity, the teacher herself chose to remove the stuffed elephant because of student

In the ensuing days, parents expressed increasing concern about the teacher’s classroom behavior, the misuse of classroom instructional time and the personal bulletin board. The level of concern resulted in a classroom confrontation between some parents and Ms. Pillia-Diaz at the Back-to-School night program. It was at this point that the school administration decided to intervene again.

On Friday morning, October 1, Ms. Pillai-Diaz was directed by the Assistant Principal to remove bulletin board materials because they were being viewed as contributing to an ongoing disruption of the teaching-learning environment. She refused. She then met with the Principal who repeated the directive. At this point, Ms. Pillai-Diaz abruptly left the building, abandoning her post of duty and her classroom responsibilities.

At no time was she told to leave, asked to leave or given authorization to leave. School was still in session. At no time was she told she was suspended or fired. With professional responsibilities of a classroom teacher waiting, Ms. Pillai-Diaz chose, of her own volition, to walk out of the school, contact various media sources and claim she had been fired. I had occasion to meet with Ms. Pillai-Diaz, along with a union representative and a police escort that she had requested, for approximately two hours when she returned to the building later that same afternoon. After listening to her story, I asked if any member of the administration had used the phrase “you’re fired” or anything that remotely sounded like it. She admitted that no one had used any such language. When I further pursued why she reported to media sources that she had been fired, she said that she “thought” that she had been. I explained that principals cannot fire employees, that only Boards of Education can do so. With her union representative present, she said that she now understood. I asked that when she next spoke with the media, that she clarify her new understanding.

I fully support the actions of the Principal and Assistant Principal. It is never acceptable for a teacher to utilize the classroom to advocate for political purposes or advance personal beliefs. The courts have always admonished teachers for proselytizing in public school classrooms. This issue is not about a picture of the President, but rather a zealous misuse of seventh and eighth grade student instructional time. The South Brunswick School community is enormously respectful of the Office of the President of the United States, President Bush and the democratic process for choosing our
President. Anyone trying to suggest the contrary has the worst of intentions. Under other circumstances, the display of a picture of the President would have been viewed as completely appropriate and uncontroversial.

It is important to note that pictures of President Bush are openly displayed in all of the South Brunswick Schools. The teacher’s own actions here, however, took it out of the realm of education and made the presentation appear partisan to many of our students and parents. Under these circumstances, our actions in directing the removal of the display were singularly appropriate.

Gary P. McCartney Ed D.
Superintendent of Schools
South Brunswick School District

10-05-2004, 10:31 AM
Thanks Ross.

I had to quit teaching school once. The principal made me take down my Elvis shrine /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif

j/k, I would not be a teacher for less than $200G a year. /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif