GOODRICH, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan elementary school teacher is fighting efforts to fire her for shooting cellphone video of a student who got stuck trying to squeeze through the back of his chair and allegedly replaying the footage later for her class.
In a 54-second clip of the November video taken in Nicole McVey’s fifth-grade classroom at Oaktree Elementary School in Goodrich, a woman can be heard asking the trapped student, “How did you get into that situation?” When the woman tells the boy that a maintenance crew is on its way to help free him, a man can be heard saying, “It’s not really an emergency in their book.”
The video was shown to the class on three occasions, said Patrick Greenfelder, a lawyer for the boy’s mother.
“For some sick humor, I guess,” Greenfelder told The Associated Press Thursday. “There could be no other purpose. ... It was just for yuks, I guess.”
Greenfelder said the 10-year-old boy suffered broken blood vessels in his eyes while trying to escape from the chair and added that the family hasn’t decided whether to sue.
McVey is on paid administrative leave. No one answered repeated calls Thursday to a number listed for McVey. Her lawyer, William Young, also did not respond to several messages seeking comment.
The school’s principal at the time, Michael Ellis, resigned. The AP also left messages at home numbers listed under the name Michael Ellis. Phone and email messages were left Thursday evening seeking comment from the Michigan Education Association teachers’ union.
The video came to light after a staff member responsible for reporting bullying got ahold of it and informed administrators, said Greenfelder.
It later was shown to the boy’s parents.
School District Superintendent Scott Bogner offered McVey and Ellis the chance to resign or be fired, and Ellis resigned but McVey opted to fight it through the tenure process, Greenfelder said.
The school board voted 5-1 in January to fire McVey. Some students, parents and fellow teachers spoke out at the contentious meeting in support of McVey and criticized board members for voting to fire her, which Greenfelder said was the reason he and his clients decided to release the video.
“The board members couldn’t discuss anything related to the case, so we decided, ‘We’ll get this thing out there and maybe these people will understand more about this,’” Greenfelder said.
In a statement, Bogner said the district can’t discuss the case due to confidentiality laws.
“In the event that the behaviors are clearly not in keeping with the policies of the district, raise concerns about professional judgment or concerns regarding activities associated with the children in a particular classroom, then and only then would a board engage in a decision to file tenure charges,” the superintendent wrote.