In Florida, a high school student told authorities that a teacher's aide touched her in an inappropriate way. The father went to the school to confront this teacher. Their conversation got heated and the father hit the aide in the face.
After the story breaks, the father is made out to be a hero. Tampa’s 98Rock radio station calls him "father of the year" and rewarded him NASCAR season tickets and other prizes. However, the teacher was innocent.
This was not a case of "his word against hers". Video footage from a surveillance camera shows that the teacher was not in the room when the alleged act took place. Students who were in the same class also report that nothing happened.
More importantly, this was all known before the father assaulted the aide. The accusation had been made days earlier. The school had interviewed other students who were in the room where and when the alleged incident took place, and they all said that she was lying.
Why would the girl lie?
The Aide had caught the girl pouring coke down a stairwell onto the head on another girl. He had reported her for disciplinary action, and she was sentenced to in-school suspension.
The school had the footage from the video camera. They had the testimony of the other kids. They had a motive. They called Swafford to the school to present him with this evidence.
When Swafford showed up at the meeting, he saw that the aide was not there, so he had his daughter take him to the aide’s class. He assaulted the teacher in front of the students. This is the situation that Tampa 98Rock called a hero.
In order to have a peaceful, well-ordered society, we agree to abide by certain rules. Civilized people agree to restrain themselves from outbursts of violence based only on an accusation. Instead, we hold that, to keep the peace, we will refer these incidents to a neutral third party, who will investigate the issue. Then, we will use their determination of the facts of the matter to determine a course of action.
The girl deserves some sort of disciplinary action for making a false report – a report that a video camera proves is false. We do not need to worry that this punishment will deter other children from making accusations out of fear that they will not be believed. The students only need to worry about the possibility of a false report when there is clear evidence that they lied.
Swafford has been arrested for felony battery, which is as it should be. Teachers have a right to do their job without the fear of assault. The sentence should be strict enough to tell other parents to obey the rules and not to take matters into their own hands. The sentence should be strict enough to replace some of the security that Swafford has taken from teachers everywhere.
My question is: What is going to happen to 98Rock radio and others who present Swafford as a hero. They have done far more damage than the student or her father did. They have done their damage to the whole teaching profession. Thanks to them, teachers need only fear the vengeful student making false accusations, and the hothead father turning violent, but a society that rewards this type of barbaric behavior.
They have made very teacher’s job more dangerous than it already was.
We can only expect that this will have a detrimental effect, not only on school discipline (where teachers now know that they should never do anything that might make a student angry), but on teaching itself as prudent individuals look for some other line of work.
It is ironic that the people who do the most harm in this case, and who harm the most people, suffer no institutional loss because of it.
The only potential for loss is if those who actually care about teachers and the teaching profession make a point of making sure that the station suffers some sort of economic hardship for its wrongful action. This is a type of case where listeners and advertisers – those who are concerned about the quality of our schools and who can muster moral outrage at a violent assault against a teacher, should take action against those who support and reward this type of violence.
This type of response would be warranted until the station is forced to give some sort of apology itself, and to voluntarily fine itself for wrongdoing, by paying some sort of retribution to those who were harmed by its actions – such as a teachers’ organization or by making a substantial (having a significant impact on the station’s bottom line) donation to the school itself.
In this way, all of those who are responsible for doing harm get a clear message not to do that type of thing again.