“You’re suspended, mister!”
Those words — or something like ’em — got recently flung into the ears of New York high school teacher Mike Poplardo, all because the molder of young skulls full of mush showed his students a documentary to prepare them for college.
To make matters worse, the instructional was produced by…brace yourself…Fox News.
In the upscale town of Bedford, the economics teacher wanted Fox Lane students ready to bust the universities wide open with aptitude. Therefore, he spent two days gettin’ ’em ready. At some point, he screened Fox News Reporting: the Truth About Sex and College.
Hosted by Fox anchor Martha MacCallum, the documentary spotlights multiple male students who claim they were falsely accused of sexual assault. It features an interview with one of the boys’ accusers, and it straightens out some misconceptions about the frequency of sexual assault.
Mike hoped to use the video as a catalyst for discussion of due process.
Here are some of the questions asked in his lesson plan, courtesy of The Daily Wire:
- Our Essential Question: What strategies can you put in place to avoid being in the ‘mess’ depicted in the video as a victim of sexual violence or a person accused of sexual violence?
- Can the victim of sexual violence be a male?
- Can a female be accused of sexual violence?
- How can administration of a college or a manager of a business or a leader in the military protect the rights of the person who believes they are a victim of sexual violence while also protecting the rights of the accused?
The plan concludes:
All people (male and female) are at risk of being a victim of sexual violence and are at risk of being accused of sexual violence so all of you should plan to use one or more than one of the strategies we have discussed to avoid being a victim and/or the accused.
Students were asked to turn in an index card noting one strategy they would use.
Anonymously, someone informed the administration that the video — which Mike’d shown to five classes during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school year (without incident) — contained sexual content. Mike was charged with inappropriate behavior.
As for the sexual content, The Daily Wire’s Ashe Schow explains:
[It] consisted of about three sentences in the entire 50-minute video that describe a particular claim of rape. Initial reports of the incident suggested he was suspended for showing a “graphic sexual video,” which he was able to have changed.
Mike — a 30-year teacher with tenure — was brought before a hearing officer, due to his “misconduct and conduct unbecoming a teacher, misconduct, incompetence, and insubordination.”
More from Ashe:
Poplardo is the only known conservative at Fox Lane High School, and believes he had “a target” on his back.
“They just don’t like me because in the work room when everyone else is complaining about every single thing Trump does, I don’t participate. I don’t fight back if I’m outnumbered nine to one, but I don’t chime in,” Poplardo said.
Poplardo’s hearing took place on Sept. 14 and Oct. 10, 2018. The district argued…that Poplardo showed the video despite its warning that it “contains explicit content that some will find disturbing” and did not inform students or parents that the video would be shown prior to the lesson, nor did he give them an option to opt out of viewing the documentary. The school also claimed the Fox News documentary portrays policies regarding sexual assault and harassment “as unfair to those accused of harassment and as the product of politically-motivated ‘hysteria,’ and that portrays females who report perceived instances of sexual harassment in a negative light.”
There ya go.
Mike appealed the district’s ruling that he disobeyed school policy to the New York State Supreme Court. However, according to the district, he filed“after the legal deadline had already passed.”
The district, it should be noted, provided him somewhat of a way out:
[I]t “offered [Poplardo] a settlement under which he would have paid a fine of approximately one week’s salary, and undergone training and counseling,” adding that if had accepted, there “would have been no suspension at all.”
A GoFundMe campaign’s been initiated to offset Mike’s loss of pay during his one month suspension (the district had vied for six). So far, it’s amassed more than $5,345 of its $8,000 goal.
If the video included questionable content, personally, I think Mike would’ve done well to take a different approach with a high school class. Perhaps sex isn’t the ideal topic for a male high school teacher to be bringing into his co-ed classroom. Though, I can’t imagine a Fox News special red-pegging the vulgarity meter.
Regardless, the question remains: was political bias fuel for the district’s actions? Should Mike have accepted one week’s fine plus counseling? To the latter, I say no — at least, not if he truly believes he did nothing wrong.
What do you think? I hope to find out, in the Comments section below.
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