While most eighth graders would agree that sexual innuendo and risque jokes are just part of being a teenager, they are usually shared by classmates, not teachers. Likewise, getting in trouble at school for an off-color joke is generally the job of kids, not faculty. But in a science class at Mission Valley Middle School in Prairie Village, Kansas, it was the teacher being inappropriate and the punishment he received was much harsher than detention.
Ryan Haraughty, who has worked in the Shawnee Mission school district for over ten years, was fired last week after he made a joke about the size and shape of the state of Florida. His off-the-cuff remark was in response to a student who commented that a hand-drawn map of the United States showed Florida a little larger than it should be. His response: “Florida got excited.”
While I am sure that elicited a few chuckles from the class, Haraughty admits he made a mistake and now regrets his lapse in judgment. But despite Haraughty’s claims that the joke got him fired, school officials hint that his termination has been a long time coming and that Haraughty is misleading the public about the reasons for the firing. In a statement released by a Shawnee Mission official, the district claims their decision was based on “numerous incidents over an extended period of time.”
That may be, but I don’t think the district needs a better reason. The joke was clearly inappropriate and had I been in that class, I would have been made very uncomfortable by such an obvious sexual reference. But not all Haraughty’s pupils agree. A group of about 50 students (all boys in this photo) cut class to demonstrate in support of their teacher.
What do you think? If this truly was a one-time incident, did the district overreact?