A teacher based in Florida may be facing repercussions after writing “WTF,” an acronym for a now commonly-used expletive, on a student’s homework assignment.
One mother, Melinda Smith, was shocked when her son received his science homework back from a teacher at Rutherford High School in Bay County with “WTF is this, absolutely no credit” written in red pen at the top.
“Just seeing WTF what is this, you know, basically … is this there’s no credit, it wasn’t anything about not getting the credit, it was more so the language [of] the writing to students,” Smith told local news station WJHG.
She added that the language was “very inappropriate and not acceptable for a teacher whatsoever.”
“I think for sure she needs to be reprimanded. I believe that something should be placed in her file,” Smith said.
The teacher who wrote the acronym did not want to respond publicly to the situation, according to the news station.
Rutherford High School Principal Coy Pilson said that he has spoken with the teacher about the incident. He indicated that the school does not want to release the teacher’s name at this time.
“Once we were notified, I notified district officials and our HR has been involved and they’re currently investigating the situation,” he told WJHG.
“[The teacher] was apologetic and it was a mistake on her part,” he added.
He also said: “All of the teachers at Rutherford High School are caring, loving teachers, and we’re also human and so, we make mistakes, but we understand that we are called to a high professional standard and when we make mistakes we try to correct those mistakes and move forward.”
While the school is taking the necessary steps to address the situation, it is unclear if the teacher will be facing any repercussions at this stage.
News of the incident sparked lively commentary online.
One parent wrote: “As a parent, I would have to review what kind of work my kid actually turned in to make the teacher write that on the paper. I agree it was unprofessional, but this is not elementary or even middle school, this is not news. Show us the rest of the paper, let us see what he wrote too.”
Mother Said Teacher Apologized in Email, Explained Her Actions
But Smith shared a comment on social media explaining the situation further to describe how the same teacher had treated her child in the past.
“Honestly I didn’t believe my son when he told me in the past how this teacher spoke to the kids in the classroom,” she wrote.
Smith explained that her child has an IEP (Individualized Education Program), which is a document that is prepared for a child who needs special education in a public school.
“My child has an IEP and went to the teacher for help and she laughed in his face. If she would have taken the time to read his IEP she would know this is a weak area for him,” she wrote.
“I made my child redo his work and it was completed and turned in. This was work he was doing to help bring up his grade for missing due to medical reasons.”
She added that “the teacher admitted her wrong in an email apologizing and said she has a joking relationship with her students and thought my son would interpret it that way but apparently they don’t have that kind of relationship.”
The mother went on to reiterate the standards she expects of those who are teaching her son: “Teachers are here to teach and build our children up. Not use inappropriate language and make it where students don’t want to finish out the school year.”
One teacher in Bay County, Robin Vaughn, weighed in on the incident by emphasizing the responsibility of teachers to use language in an appropriate way.
Vaughn wrote in a Facebook comment: “I love my job and my scholars. One of the expectations in my classroom—which we read and reference often—is to use language worthy of your character.
“I am blessed that my scholars do that. I would like to think that a small part of that is because I lead them in doing the same thing. I expect it of them, and they expect it of me.”
Vaughn emphasized in her message the importance for teachers to think before writing feedback on students’ work because such feedback could majorly impact the students.
“I write comments on essays all the time,” she wrote. “I think about what I’m writing before I write it and as I write it. I correct their writing, but I also praise them.”
“This teacher didn’t blurt out something she regretted saying. She had time to write it. Sadly, this child will never forget it,” Vaughn wrote, giving an example of a time when an algebra teacher had told her she was “dumb” in maths.
“All I ever heard for the entire year while that teacher was teaching was: ‘You are dumb.’”
Vaughn also said that teachers have a responsibility higher than simply imparting theoretical knowledge.
“As teachers, I believe it is our job to do more than teach content. I believe it is our job to help shape the characters of these fine scholars we spend most of our hours with. We are human. Teachers are flawed like everyone else. But we must lead by example,” she wrote.