Teacher cleared in chair-throwing incident
The president of the New Bedford teachers' union said Thursday that a high school teacher who had a chair thrown at her was cleared of any wrongdoing.
Joanne Maura faced a disciplinary hearing for allegedly failing to report the incident to school officials. It was caught on camera by a student who witnessed it.
"There is a climate of fear that permeates all of our buildings. Teachers are all afraid of their jobs right now, and many teachers are afraid to report any incident because if they do, they could be the next Joanne Maura. They could be the next one to be fired," union President Louis St. John told NBC 10 News.
St. John said Maura was reluctant to report the incident because of the fear she has of Superintendent Pia Durkin.
"This administration I feel doesn't truly support the teachers of New Bedford Public Schools. Because if she did, we would have never had this meeting today," St. John said.
At the meeting, St. John said Maura was cleared of any wrongdoing.
"She feels relieved. She feels like this has been a dark cloud over her, and now she can just get on with her life," St. John said.
But St. John said that Maura being cleared isn't helping alleviate any of the teachers' fears. He cited one example.
"She received a requisition for a new chair and she felt like the administration was more concerned about the chair than they were about her safety and her health," he said.
St. John called out school and city leaders for allowing the incident to spiral out of control, but he thanked the City Council for its support.
"The City Council was outraged by this incident and they stepped up and they made their feelings known and yet it's not their job. It's the school committee's job to represent our schools, and they're not getting the job done," St. John said.
St. John said Maura is mostly concerned about the student who threw the chair getting whatever help he may need.
Kehmar Rosselus, 18, was expelled from school and is facing criminal charges.
Durkin, the superintendent, would not talk to NBC 10 after the hearing, but she did release a statement.
"This incident has led to the conclusion that increased communication and High School policies, practices, and procedures need to be reviewed with all staff as well as additional support be provided in dealing with such situations," Durkin said.