Read the newspapers about schools today and you’ll feel like we’re being overrun with bad teachers. Grades are slipping, standards are falling and it’s all the teachers’ fault. Apparently. But that’s just media hype – teaching as a whole is neither better nor worse than it’s ever been before, they’re just struggling to keep up with the ever-changing standards demanded of them.
However, there is such a thing as a bad teacher. A really bad teacher. The kind of teacher you’d find cooking up crystal meth in “Breaking Bad” or teaching rebellion in “School of Rock”. And we’ve gathered together the ten worst examples of teachers that we could find. Some of them sound fun people to party with, but would you really want them teaching your kids? Find out more in our Top 10 Worst Behaved Teachers.
10. Lisa Terry
One of 35 teachers involved in a cheating scandal in Atlanta, Lisa Terry was the first one to plead guilty to obstruction (charges of theft and racketeering were dropped in exchange for the guilty plea). The case revolved around the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, where she hinted to students that they might want to go back and redo their answers in order to improve their scores. She was given 12 months’ probation and wrote an apology letter to her students, saying “I sincerely apologize for my actions and regret that I failed to uphold the ethics and standards of the teaching profession”. Not the first teacher ever to be caught cheating on tests but one of the more high-profile ones.
9. Tonya Flink
Now, sex scandals are surprisingly common among teachers and their students – in fact, this entire list could be filled with them. But there’s some unpleasant stuff that’s happened in schools and you really wouldn’t want to dwell on it, so here’s a sex scandal with a happy ending…kind of. Tonya Flink was a computer technology teacher at Haltom High School, Texas who had a penchant for “young, Hispanic kids”. So much so that she had relationships with at least four of them and married one of them. During her trial, her husband refused to co-operate with the prosecutors so it’s likely that they are quite happy together. Flink received 4 years’ probation and is no longer teaching.
8. Travis Lechien
Some of the sex scandals in schools revolve around teachers being inappropriate in what they share with the kids. None more so than Travis Lechien, who chose to take his class on a field trip to a strip club, possibly as part of their sex education. The scandal had a long build-up, with Lechien allowing his students to hang out at his house, drinking and smoking hookah, but it came to a head when he decided to celebrate a student’s birthday by taking him and some others to a strip club in Hammond. They were stopped on the way home by Lake County police and he was later charged with charged with three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Highly inappropriate behavior from an educator, but you can be sure that his students thought he was the coolest teacher ever…
7. Jo Shuter
We’re in the UK for this next one, and a headteacher who decided to replicate a good old fashioned British expenses scandal. The head was Jo Shuter, who had been awarded “Head of the Year” for her dynamic leadership skills but unfortunately she was also misappropriating school funds, spending £7,000 on her own birthday party, £10,000 on travel and £3,000 on flowers. She had only just recovered from that episode when she was hit by accusations of cronyism, giving jobs to her friends and family and allowing the BBC to make a film about how inspirational she was…that was directed by her own sister. She admitted there was a “blurring of my personal and professional worlds”, which accounted for her using school money to go to the cinema and pay her phone bills. Unsurprisingly, she offered her resignation soon afterwards.
6. Melissa Petro
Blurring professional and personal worlds is one thing – having a past profession, which is quite personal, is another. Teacher Melissa Petro taught art at a Bronx elementary school for three years before it emerged that she had previously worked as a prostitute. She had met men through Craigslist.com and offered “erotic services”. She effectively caused her own dismissal when she wrote an article for the Huffington Post about her experiences and berating Craigslist for no longer facilitating such encounters, a decision she defended by saying “It was my belief that the First Amendment protected my right to publish my experiences and opinions – however controversial.” She was “reassigned” after her revelations as the school authorities didn’t feel that an ex-prostitute was the best person to be interacting with students. How very narrow-minded of them!