• Teacher encourages students to protest

    Date: 06.01.11 | by Judge Tom.

    Hope Moffett, age 25, worked with Teach for America before taking a position at Audenried High School in Philadelphia two years ago. A planned conversion of the school to a charter school is underway. Moffett and others object to the change and have become vocal in their opposition.

    In February, 2011, Moffett encouraged her students to voice their opinion by letting the district administrators know how they feel. Without notifying any parents, she provided bus tokens for students to leave school and travel three miles to the district offices where a protest was underway. Moffett denied organizing the protest. However, in the days leading up to the protest, she helped students make signs.

    The school was concerned about the safety of the 53 students who participated while in route to the protest. Teachers met them there and escorted them back to school.

    Moffett is accused of crossing the line in her zeal to teach students they have a voice and should use it. The school superintendent explained that “when you endanger the welfare of children, you’ve got to take the disciplinary action that comes with it.” Moffett was terminated as a result of her “poor judgment.”

    Could Ms. Moffett have gone about this differently? Do you think the outcome might have been better for her if she obtained parental permission first for the students to leave campus? Do you think termination from her job was harsh? Why or why not?

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    1 Comment subscribe to these comments.

    • Sierra Ferguson
      Thu, 16 Jun 2011 at 06:06

      I like this article. Freedom of speech is invaluable. I think people don’t excercise their rites to express their opinions (relavent to real issues) often enough. However, there are procedures, and ways to approach matters delicately and logically. For example, had this teacher asked for permission slips, she may have avoided a lot of problems (that slightly discredit her cause in the end).
      Good point, Sierra. Thanks. A lesson for us all – a little forethought and preparation can minimize an unexpected outcome.