Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Conflict Begins: State Vs. Federal Harassment Laws

It is another "Aha Moment" as I contemplate educational New Year predictions for our "Golden State." I predict a major conflict between our new California State Education law (see my prior posts) allowing students the opportunity to be verbally abusive to their teacher and administrators free of consequences and our Federal labor law prohibiting harassment in the workplace.

"How Much Of This Am I Able To Take?"

Federal law prohibits unlawful harassment in the workplace defined as "offensive conduct that is so intolerable or pervasive that reasonable people would conclude your workplace is intimidating, hostile, or abusive."

Here is a common scenario especially seen in Grades 4th and up, where expulsion is no longer an option for willful defiance of a teacher or administrator: A student or group of students are in your face yelling obscenities at you because they are obviously not in school to learn. In fact, they do this with the intent to disrupt learning, break the teacher down, and hopefully be thrown out of class. When this conduct is "intentional, severe, recurring and/or pervasive and interferes with the teacher's ability to perform his/her job", I believe it is conducive to an intimidating, hostile, or abusive environment.

Now, don't say it can't happen, as any logical person knows fully well it is prevalent in a society of "selfies" where "respect" is no longer part of the adolescent vocabulary! But, the big question is, "How much is an educator supposed to take before Federal law supersedes our new State law and that incorrigible child receives the reprimand he/she so rightfully deserves?" 

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