Bessinger wants an apology from the district, and that the district address the hostility against her stoked by staff without suspending her without pay and transferring her as punishment for speaking out against the racialized curriculum.
Ramona Bessinger is the Providence, Rhode Island, middle school teacher who went public at Legal Insurrection on the destructive race-focused new school curriculum, and then suffered retaliation as she wrote in these posts:
- I’m A Middle School Teacher And See How Critical Race Curriculum Is Creating Racial Hostility In School (July 13, 2021)
- Ramona Bessinger: I’m A Middle School Teacher Facing Retaliation After Blowing The Whistle On Critical Race Curriculum (October 3, 2021)
Bessinger’s troubles have been mounting in the past two weeks, with increased hostility from the school administration, staff, and school children feeding off that adult hostility towards Bessinger:
- Harassment Of Providence Anti-Critical Race Whistleblower Teacher Ramona Bessinger Intensified
- Providence Anti-Critical Race Whistleblower Teacher Ramona Bessinger Taunted In Troubling Schoolyard Incident
The district seized on an incident where a small number of Bessinger’s students allegedly left the classroom during an “instructional lockdown” (which is lower level than a shelter in place lockdown). The district claimed Bessinger let the students out, something she denied, asserting that confused school policies as to whether students needed permission to leave classrooms, coupled with the lunch bell ringing in the middle of the lockdown, may have led students to think they should leave.
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board called the lockdown claim a “pretext” to punish Bessinger:
The Providence Public School District hauled in Ramona Bessinger on Wednesday for a “pre-disciplinary administrative” hearing because she allegedly let students leave her classroom during a school lockdown related to a fight between a student and staff member. Ms. Bessinger, who has taught for 22 years, denies the charge.
Her real offense is chronicling the alarming effects of critical race theory on students and teachers….
The harassment by fellow teachers and administrative officials increased this year after some media outlets highlighted her story. Last month a union representative at a faculty meeting said teachers were circulating a petition against her. On Oct. 3 she filed an internal complaint about retaliation and a hostile working environment.
The district subsequently issued her a notice alleging that she violated protocols during a school lockdown and calling for a hearing. “These allegations create a legitimate concern that you may not and/or will not be able to perform your duties within the scope of your accountable employment with PPSD,” the letter says. “Please note appropriate disciplinary action” including termination may result.
The district would be unlikely to win a disciplinary case against Ms. Bessinger for opining online about critical race theory because the Supreme Court in Pickering v. Board of Education (1968) held that the First Amendment protects teachers from retaliation for speaking on matters of public concern. Hence, the district needed a pretext to target her.
When Bessinger showed up for work today, she was told to spend the day in the staff room (featured image). It was very cold in the room, and a local woman hearing of Bessinger’s plight, delivered a blanket for her:
— Laurie (@laurieinri) October 18, 2021
Late this afternoon Bessinger received word from her union rep on the outcome of the disciplinary hearing. Bessinger would receive a 5-day unpaid suspension, and Bessinger also would be transferred to another school.
Bessinger says that she will contest the suspension, and objects to the transfer (it’s not clear that there is a formal process to contest the transfer). Bessinger asserts that the entire process has been retaliation and that if there are disciplinary problems at her school the district should fix those problems, not punish her with a transfer. Bessinger fears for her safety at being transferred to another school under these circumstances.
Bessinger wants an apology from the district, and that the district address the hostility against her stoked by staff without transferring her as punishment for speaking out against the racialized curriculum.
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