Fair Lawn Teacher's Berating of Student Caught on Video

High school teacher placed on leave while district investigates incident that has gone viral on YouTube.

Fair Lawn High School. File photo.
Fair Lawn High School. File photo.
A Fair Lawn High School teacher has been placed on leave after video showing a man berating a student was spread online, according to Superintendent Bruce Watson.

The man in the video is allegedly a special education teacher at Fair Lawn High, according to sources who contacted Patch. More than 10,000 people watched the clip within days of it being posted on Youtube and tens of thousands more watched it on Liveleak, another video sharing website.

The school district declined to reveal the teacher's identity.

The video appears to have been shot from a cell phone. The video shows a man berating a student for something that apparently happened before the start of the recording.  

In the video, the man seems to say: "You are a student. I am the teacher. You want to know why I said that? Because a friend of mine's sister passed away. She died. OK? Shut your mouth. Don't you ever, one second in your life, think that you're going to tell me anything. Do you understand that? Do you understand that? You don't? OK, let me help you understand it," and, raising his voice, continues, "You're my goddamn student. You get that? I'm your teacher. Don't ever tell me what to do. You get it now? Now sit down... Now go cry to your counselor."

The student's responses aren't audible in the video.

Superintendent Watson told Patch he was investigating the incident while the teacher was out on leave.

"We do not now—or ever will—condone behavior that was displayed in the video," Watson said. "Having said that, I need to complete an investigation before any conclusions are made."

Fair Lawn Board of Education policy on "inappropriate staff conduct" states that "school staff shall not make inappropriate comments to pupils or about pupils and shall not engage in inappropriate language or expression in the presence of pupils," but does not define what comments would count as "inappropriate." 
Voice of Reason December 18, 2013 at 01:49 PM
I am in no way defending the actions of this teacher. However is there a cell phone policy in place that prohibits not only the use but also the stuents taking pictures and videos in the classroom. Not only that but also publishing it on Youtube. I would have felt more comfortable about this had the stdunt in question gone to an administrator with the video, and dealt with it in this manner. Each student could have been interviewed privately. With the posting I am sure the NJEA will use this as a defense mechanism in the process. School Boards now have the mechanisms in place to either discipline or remove a bad or ineffective teacher. I fear that this may have compromised this propcess.
SpecialEdTeacher December 18, 2013 at 02:08 PM
Voice of reason - I am a special ed teacher and also a parent. I would inform my child that if he felt he was being bullied he should break the rule of no cell phone policy and record the abuse. I'm sorry to say but this teacher has had numerous complaints against him for over 10 yes. Administration and Watson did nothing. It's happened in other situations in town as well. You are blaming the victim for the way they stood up for themselves. Bullies make people afraid to stand up to them. People in power sometimes do that too. For those of you who don't know the facts - you need to trust this has been going on with this teacher for many years. The BOE did nothing. I am a teacher yes, but sadly the union protects bad teachers too and that's why I'm against them. What matters at all times is the students. Not administration, not the union and not the teacher. All the posts I'm reading are so ignorant pertaining to "children deserving it etc.". I do not have a special needs child but I am lucky enough to work with them everyday and I will spend the rest of my life standing up for them as a teacher in my classroom and as a community advocate.
The Gman December 18, 2013 at 02:13 PM
Everyone has the right to fairness and a proper investigation to determine fault. I am in favor of a complete and thorough investigation of past and present behavior of each individual involved in this incident. If the BOE digs deep, you will find this to be a very one sided issue.
Jim Leggate (Editor) December 18, 2013 at 02:21 PM
Update here: http://fairlawn-saddlebrook.patch.com/groups/schools/p/officials-investigating-fair-lawn-teacher-caught-shouting-on-video
The Gman December 18, 2013 at 02:21 PM
specialedteacher: I am sure you would agree, that numerous cases special needs children behave in a compulsive manner, it is just part of their DNA, and the action of the teacher, if properly train is not protocol. These children can not be managed with an iron fist, they are disabled.
Mi December 18, 2013 at 02:25 PM
Governor Christie has spoken much more degrading to people and he is reelected!
choopalapina December 18, 2013 at 02:26 PM
Exactly Gman...which is why they should not be mainstreamed
The Gman December 18, 2013 at 02:35 PM
Their are many people that have inside information regarding this issue and they are venting, because of frustration.
choopalapina December 18, 2013 at 03:58 PM
Wow! Seems like an axe to grind FLMOM. I believe you should be mature about this and not so sophomoric in the post! I hope you have legal documentation of these statements.naturally you wouldn't want to be held liable for slander.Then again you parallel the coward on Channel 4 news
Bruce Knuckle December 18, 2013 at 04:13 PM
It seems to me that there is a little anger there caused by more than this situation alone. Perhaps a woman scorned by the so called "egotistical maniac". Seem very interested in his calf
The Gman December 18, 2013 at 04:14 PM
choopalapina: you may just be the fairest person on this blog or you have an agenda. Like I stated before, their are many insiders with vest information and with a proper investigation, will yield a lopsided result.
choopalapina December 18, 2013 at 05:31 PM
Gman..thank you . I have no agenda just believe everyone is entitled to a fair hearing. isn't that what our great democratic society is known for? @ FairLawnMom..I really think Mr knuckle may be correct....you present an obsessive approach regarding this teacher
BellairBerdan December 18, 2013 at 08:49 PM
It's been interesting reading these comments. Those that demand compassion for a disabled person can show none for someone who just heard a friend died. That mom that goes on about role models and how they should show respect for their children goes on to say "Too bad the rabbi didn't knock you unconscious IRVING....you clearly should have been! ". Calls someone garbage, another ignorant. Isn't a parent the most important role model there is? Should we give her the benefit of the doubt and think she is venting in frustration? Or should we call DYFS and have her children removed from her home because she was following her own ungoverned impulses and raging at others which "gives these role models permission to not take responsibility for their unacceptable behavior". Let the rule of law take care of this matter, not mob rule.
Bruce Knuckle December 18, 2013 at 09:03 PM
Well said
Jeff December 18, 2013 at 09:28 PM
I don't view this as mob rule - that's a really extreme statement and I think you realize it. What is evident, however, is the frustration many of us have seen over the years in the administration of our school system. Every parent wants what is best for our kids, however Fair Lawn has frequently relegated our Special Ed kids to the almost 2nd class status. For example, my son was classified and his IEP permitted him extra time to take tests. Not a different test than the other kids, just more time. At least 2 teachers refused to comply and 1 went so far as to openly chastise him in class for this. One question that remains unanswered is the qualifications of this teacher for Special Ed. Did he receive training specific to this specialty? Is he continuing to take course to remain current in this field? What subject is he teaching, or is he instead just watching a room full of kids while they do their homework? I'm not saying he is not qualified, but please prove to me that he has a documented competency and credentials in this area.
choopalapina December 18, 2013 at 09:36 PM
Jeff we don't know that however , if he was an educator for 20+ years it stands to reason he must have.
jim December 18, 2013 at 10:21 PM
When there's a patch article about an ADA park being made or local kids fund raising for special need kids there will be 2 comments made acknowledging it. However on this article there is quickly 73 and now all of a sudden you all care about special needs children. Maybe a lot of you care more about being negative and chastising someone who made a big mistake. The news and attention is doing more harm to this kid than the teacher.
jim December 18, 2013 at 10:23 PM
Is it even legal to show this minirs face on the video without his consent?
The Gman December 19, 2013 at 07:03 AM
When you are an adult and a professional their is a code of conduct that one must live up too. What was show publicly on this video is clearly an embarrassment for both the teacher and BOE. Considering this incident is public the BOE must investigate the matter and report back in a truthful manner. If the video was not made public or did not exist all this would have been swiped under the rug as if it never happened. We the residence deserve a truthful and timely response from the BOE.........
Jeff December 19, 2013 at 03:55 PM
Gman- your comment also raised the following question; Is the BOE trying to maintain the appearance that all is well in our schools, or or they trying to appease NJEA and not raise the flag that one of the FL teachers may not be right for the his/her job. In either case, it makes one wonder if the leadership of Fair Lawn's school system as well as the BOE both require a change?
Bruce Knuckle December 19, 2013 at 05:29 PM
Jeff. That change should gave come in November but didn 't happen.
LORI JEZIK December 21, 2013 at 08:57 AM
the behavior in question is rage. a teacher ragefully attacked a student. when this happened in glen rock and was reported, the outcome was it was deemed that a teacher raging at a student is ok. i'm delighted to hear that a video was captured and the perpetrator was exposed. there is an approach to this behavior that could be helpful. schools can adopt a non-violent communication policy and or program. the topics being discussed in this forum seem to miss the real content here. it's violence. the increasing gun violence that occurs in our schools may be impacted by violent communications, such as this. i'd like for a safe environment to be created on a platform of non-violent communication in all schools.
choopalapina December 21, 2013 at 09:13 AM
Lori do your research ..the gun violence is perpetrated by specials with serious social issues or out right mentally ill individuals.
yourkidisapussy December 21, 2013 at 03:11 PM
why was this guy suspended for putting this kid in his place? Kids say the dumbest stuff without having any real life experience to back it up. So what if a kid got yelled at. He was being a disrespectful little shit.
FLMOM December 22, 2013 at 09:03 AM
Yeah, why was the asshole suspended? He should be FIRED!
Jeff December 22, 2013 at 12:43 PM
YKIAP- I really hope you don't have any kids of your own or worse, that you are a teacher as well.. If this is your attitude, then you are woefully unprepared and not even close to being qualified to act as a responsible parent and role model. A teacher is supposed to set an example for the kids in the classroom, and not act as some street brawler who thinks that just because he is in a position of authority he can bully a kid around. Clearly his "life experience" is one I don't want my kids exposed to.
yourkidisapussy December 23, 2013 at 05:16 PM
jeff you kid is a pussy just remember that.
George Murphy December 29, 2013 at 03:05 AM
Pubic School Systems: Oh, am I glad to be away from them, entirely!
George Murphy December 29, 2013 at 03:10 AM
FLMOM - You do not have the total facts. With an approach like that it is no wonder why these kids sit where they are. I think we need to bring back corporal punishment. This kid said something to incite the problem, obviously. The teacher is in charge of the classroom, and, is responsible for its proper management, period!!!!!!!!!!!! Now, on the flip side, any teacher who violates the ethics code - regardless, must be shown the door!
Michelle Rowe January 09, 2014 at 08:22 AM
Can't seem to find out any additional information about this - is it being pushed under another rug - again?


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