‘One day he brought illegal fireworks into the classroom.’ Her Chemistry Teacher Was Insanely Unsafe, So She Got Him Fired By Secretly Recording Him
by Matthew Gilligan
When I look back on some of the bad teachers I had when I was growing up, one question always pops into my head: why did they choose to go into teaching if they DIDN’T LIKE KIDS?
Yeah, it’s weird, right?
But you see it all the time and I’m willing to bet that even YOU had some awful teachers that should have never stepped foot in a classroom.
So what can you do?
Well, this student went above and beyond and got some major revenge on a teacher who had all kinds of issues with his students.
I made my high school chemistry teacher lose his job.
“I went to a ghetto high school in a poor community, but my parents raised me to work my *** off so I could get out of there.
My parents never went to college, but because of this, myself and my siblings have all gone to good schools out of state. I maintained a 4.0 until the year in question in highschool, taking 5 advanced courses a year (out of 6 total, with the last 6th not offering an honors alternative).
I learned to get very little sleep because of the amount of work these courses required, and because my school didn’t have tutoring aides or anything of the like. Didn’t understand something? Tough ****, get to googling.
She was warned not to take this class.
So in one of my upperclassmen years, I signed up for an advanced chemistry course. I knew it would be hard, but assumed like the rest of my courses that if the class was minimally structured and google came through per usual, I would be fine. Other students warned me not to take the course, but since I wanted to go to college for chemistry I knew I had to go through with it.
And then she found out why…
The teacher was horrible. He was old (which is fine) and didn’t offer afterclass support (which was normal)…but also didn’t even offer in-class support.
His answer to even basic questions was “you should understand that, talk to me about it later”, but later never came. He didn’t offer lunch hours, didn’t offer after school hours, and in class would just put up the answers (which were already available online and in the back of the book).
Her first test did not go very well…and this teacher didn’t seem very helpful.
My family didn’t have fancy tutor money, and none were readily available in my community anyways. I studied my *** off, but when the first test came back I had a D-, with no notes to even understand what I had done wrong.
When I went to speak with him about it right after class ended (missing part of my next course in the process) he simply told me to look more closely at the textbook for help, and that he didn’t have time for me. He was 2 weeks behind the explanations that he did give, because he was constantly distracted.
But then this guy got even worse…
All of this is bad, but didn’t deserve him being fired yet. What did was when he got dangerous.
In an experiment working with hydrochloric acid, a plug held the concentrated stuff in a tube with some magnesium, and reacted to form hydrogen bubbles.
Well, one of the other students in my group didn’t plug the thing properly, and the plug fell out (with the Mg being stuck in the tube, now without the HCl). So I asked him how to get the tube back, expecting him to tell us to discard the HCl solution, rinse with water, and start over. I’d read the safety section in my textbook, which had this approach to working with acids.
He gave her some really bad advice.
He insisted that I stick my un-gloved hand in the solution and just grab the plug, and then still in the solution plug it back in. He wouldn’t even put his own hand in to do it, so my high-school self thought this was an inherently bad idea. I took some more Mg from the work bench, and kept adding it to the solution until it stopped reacting, eating up all the HCl to just leave water.
And it kept getting worse. One day he brought illegal fireworks into the classroom, and started setting them off. He thought it was funny to point them at us, wearing no safety equipment or goggles, and hoodies that could’ve easily caught the firey things.
This teacher wasn’t concerned with safety.
He frequently would leave the room while a group of high school kids were playing with bunsen burners and caustic chemicals. So in combination with the total lack of education I was getting, I didn’t feel safe.
And he also wasn’t a fan of female students.
Did I mention he was ****** too? I’m a girl, by the way. All of the boys got A’s on tests, with no explanations. He even lost one of the other boy’s tests, and straight up said in front of me and the rest of the class that we would just give him an A-, assuming that he had done well.
Later on I had asked the other student for help understanding something, and even he didn’t know what was going on in the course, so I knew it was just ********. Every other girl I asked was getting the same inexplicable grades as I was.
This wasn’t unusual on its own either, as I lived in a very conservative area and had several ****** teachers… just usually they’d at least still grade fairly.
Last contextual thing: my high school teacher’s union had negotiated for tenure. After coming to college, I’ve learned that this is a very unusual thing, and in retrospect it’s an idiotic thing.
This guy seemingly had a job for life and could never be fired.
This chemistry teacher was tenured, which meant that there was basically no way to fire him. Honestly, I felt bad for the bitter old man, because after a botched surgery he was constantly in pain. He was still teaching because he refused to retire, and he had a son going through college that he needed to pay for.
But at a certain point, this was affecting my chances of getting into college. I wasn’t about to let one man’s issues affect prospects for the rest of my life.
She came up with a plan.
So I looked up recording laws for my state, and found that it was a one-party consent state–meaning that I could legally record my teacher audio-ally as long as the campus didn’t say anything against it (they had no policies) and I was one of the parties consenting.
So for a month, with my grade tanking despite hours of studying and three study books on the course, I recorded him. I recorded his fireworks, his lambasting female students, his crying in the back chemical storage room leaving us unsupervised.
I recorded the three times he had left campus inexplicably, leaving the front office to send a last minute substitute to open the door and let us in. Ya know the “15 minutes and I’m legally allowed to leave” meme? That was a constant joke for my class.
It was time to fill in the superintendent of schools.
And then, I made a throwaway gmail to make a throwaway Dropbox account (big at the time). I uploaded everything, and emailed it to my superintendent with the ultimatum that if something wasn’t done I would email the recordings to the local news, and that I really didn’t want to do that.
Within a day I heard back, with her assuring me that I wouldn’t be punished for ratting him out. My parents, her, and myself met. We went over my grades, my unmarked tests and homework, and the videos.
They asked me first to talk over my concerns with the teacher, and I said I was uncomfortable with that given his treatment of female students. The superintendent said she wouldn’t tell the teacher who had submitted the evidence, but that they needed to speak with him about the concerns to hear his side of the story. My parents and I said that was completely reasonable, as long as my name was never mentioned.
The teacher wanted to have a talk with her.
The next day, the teacher said he needed to speak with me after class alone. I told him I couldn’t as I had another course after that, and he said that it was important. I turned my phone’s recorder again right before the class ended, and as I was packing up he approached me.
Due to the shape of the classroom, I was literally backed into a corner, and would have had to push this man to the side to get out. He then started saying that one of the students in the course had brought “unfounded concerns” and “lies” to the administration about what was going on in the course, and that he “knew we hadn’t always gotten along well” but that he “hoped I wouldn’t have done that to him”.
All she could do was play along.
I lied through my teeth and said that I didn’t know what he was talking about, that he was making me uncomfortable by blocking my access to the door, and that I was late for my next class. He didn’t even deny what I was saying, just said that since I clearly had a problem with him, he’d be willing to stay after class to help me specifically, since it seemed like I was struggling so much.
After that I told him I really needed to get to my next course, and he finally moved. I emailed the superintendent that recording during my next course, and cc’d my parents.
My parents were furious; the superintendent was mad too because while my parents were poor they dressed up nicely. My mom was an expert in bluffing about getting a lawyer (that we totally couldn’t afford), so a liability lawsuit was probably ringing through the lady’s mind.
The school district decided to take action.
Since the district couldn’t fire him, he was put on immediate “permanent medical leave”. While the district was still paying his full pay, they gave us one unqualified substitute after another. Two months before the national exam for the course, they gave us a female teacher that they had pulled out of retirement, but that had actually taught the advanced chemistry course for years.
This new teacher was a good one!
She was a godsend, and even held 8 hour Saturday classes so that we could catch up with the curriculum at least enough to pass the class. In those two months, we covered just enough of the test’s material that our class had a 50% pass rate (according to my upperclassmen friends, this was a lot higher than it had been for their years, with less than 10% of the class passing).
The superintendent also wrote me a thank-you college recommendation letter, partially to keep me quiet and partially because they had been trying to get rid of this guy for years. My little sister took this course a couple of years after me, and said that the new teacher was competent, and they were still at that 50% pass rate.”
Here’s how folks reacted to this story.
This person got a teacher fired, too.
Another reader saw a substitute teacher get fired.
This Reddit user thought what she went through was awful.
One person thinks that tenure is just plain STUPID.
Mess around and find out, right?
That was the PG version, by the way.