This was an interesting post that we found.  It might be time to do a series on this.

By Jim S Dean

A lot of complaints and accusations are made each year against teachers, with over three-quarters of these being found to be false. Many of these allegations are a result of teachers simply breaking up fights or giving punishments to students for unac­ceptable behavior.

Teachers are particularly vulnerable to false accusations because of the varied nature of their jobs and the large numbers of young people they work with every day. Sadly, many students have no problem in making a false claim about a teacher they dislike.

Examples of serious allegations include:

• Accusing a teacher of any form of sexual abuse or improper contact with a student, or of making any sexual remarks, jokes or comments.

• Accusations of physical abuse or violence towards a student that cannot be justified as reasonable force.

• Racist or religious slurs, or any other offensive language or com­ments directed at a student.

• Allegations relating to a teacher’s skills, competency and pro­fessional behavior (for example, being drunk or under the influ­ence of drugs).

Be aware: once a serious allegation has been made, it must be properly investigated. Teachers will be sus­pended while the investigation takes place. For many teachers, even if the allegation is proved to be com­pletely false, the fact that it has been made will taint their reputation. It is often assumed that the fact an accusation has been made is proof enough of a teacher’s guilt.

Every effort should be made to preserve the teacher’s anonymity while an allegation is being investigated. The media or local press should not be given any details until the case is fully resolved.

If you are the victim of a serious allegation, you should still expect the support and understanding of your work place. If the allegation is true it is better to admit to it straight away and seek legal advice rather than lie about it. Be honest about what has happened and accept full responsibility for your actions.

What to do if you are falsely accused

- Ensure you get some legal support right away.

- Contact your union or other similar group for advice.

- Search online for support groups who can help and support you.

- Gather as much evidence as you can to contest the allegation. Make a list of students, staff and other colleagues who may be able to act as witnesses for your defense.

- Although false allegations are very damaging to any teacher, don’t lose heart. You don’t have to give up on your career just because of one malicious claim.

Jim S. Dean is a stay at home father, freelance writer, and webmaster with an interest in a wide range of subjects.

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8 Responses to “What to Do If You Are Falsely Accused by a Student”

  1. Joni Brown says:

    It happens now they need help clearing their name. Can you help.

  2. BWilson says:

    For the past 7 years, I’ve work as a college and career/student services adviser at a high school. This grant is administered through a nearby college. I am an at will employee and have no union protection. I , too, am going through the humiliation of having been falsely accused of making a comment of a sexual nature to a high school student. It’s cost me my position, but I’m contesting the charge. I don’t expect to get my former job back, they’ve already replaced me, I’m only trying to save face, salvage my career and be employable in my field of expertise. hopefully I can salvage my career and be employable again. Can’t say I hold out too much hope at this point. Basically I’m now screwed because this 15 year old boy decided to throw me under the bus one day for no particular reason It’s the beginning of a new school year and everyone is moving on with their lives but me, or at least that’s how I feel. I’m just waiting and waiting for the decision from a panel of people who know nothing about me other than a lie and an appallingly executed investigation in my personnel file. Honestly, if I was in their position, looking at the accusation and appallingly executed investigation, I’d probably chose to fire me, too. The whole process is beyond frustrating and making me physically ill. I can’t sleep, barely eat, and have hardly left the house in over a month. My marriage is suffering from the stress and my poor kids are stressed out. They’re both in college and my salary basically went toward paying for their education. I’ve had to clean out my retirement to pay for tuition. I’ve been turned down for unemployment because i was fired for cause. No one will talk to me, and I’ve been told to not discuss this with any one. I feel very isolated, I’ve lost my career, my social relationships with my “friends” at work. The reality is, when you work with students, particularly high school students, they will continually test you and try to throw out inappropriate topics to see if you’ll bite. I can’t tell you how many times in a week I must redirect student’s commentary. If you’re in education, be vigilant, always watch watch you say, try to avoid being alone with students, cover your back at all times, but even then, it may not make a difference. Basically, I’m screwed.

  3. April says:

    What’s so troubling is that there is NO information out there for teachers that have been falsly accused by a parent! I teach in a very diverse NYC public school. A parent (not my first grader) falsely accused me of being racist on the first day if school in 2011…well it’s nearly 2 years later and the “office of equal opportunity” is still investigating this completely false claim. I have close to 40 parents that have emailed the “impartial” investigator, even my administration commiserates my claim that this mother is nothing short of crazy. Just last week this former student asked to have lunch with me because I’m his “favorite teacher”, yet nothing will get the OEO to back down. It’s time for teacher that have been falsly accused to have a voice!!

  4. H.K. Edwards says:

    Thank you for this website blog. It is meaningful, insightful, honest, important, cathartic, and essential for those not unlike myself. I was a Rotary International Teacher of the Year with more than fifteen years experience as an “exemplary” and “highly competent” evaluated instructor. I was a categorically certified NBPTS teacher and a district master teacher having supervised (unpaid) more than five student teachers who were placed with me by school site administrators and university field supervisors very successfully. I served on school site councils, school based management panels, and I sponsored various school clubs (unpaid), and I even offered free after school tutoring as well to students that sought it ~ often providing food or other important situational materials needs as warranted by various circumstances to encourage their skills fortification. I loved it!

    Our particular high school in Los Angeles had five principals in four years; once we even had two principals at the same time. I didn’t understand it, but I did what I could to work with it. We were a year-round school, so we moved our classrooms three times a year. Once I (only me) was made to move my classroom and all of my belongings four times in one semester to three different buildings and four different locations. I believe this was done to exasperate me and begin to a pattern of harassment which continued for years. I did not see it at that time because my focus was on my academic program and the scholastic merits of my students skills acquisition. Little did I know I was a target.

    Initially, I began as a school counselor ~ Later, I resumed my work in a teaching position because I discovered that the graduating seniors academic skills were so poor, I estimated that I could make a more substantive impact as their teacher instead of their counselor. I had up to four “preps” some semesters, but I never complained, I embraced the challenge ~ I had mastered the CA Framework Standards, and I exhibited keen content knowledge as well. I was given excellent support the first five years for my academic program(s) having held three credentials and a master of science degree in counseling, until one of the new administrators decided that they did not like me. Next I was displaced from my alma mater high school as a teacher (an honor I really cherished) and “displaced” because there were supposedly no open positions available {I held three credentials and ten years tenure with permanent status} ~ it was a lie, many positions were open.

    I was kept out of the classroom for months awaiting my new school re-assignment. I was then placed at a middle school and assigned two subjects out of my content area; I studied the framework standards and practiced them with online support and qualified clarification with colleagues willing to work with me. I referenced “best practices” resources and other information that would enable me to be as effective as I could ~ despite the misplaced position I was appointed. Unmerited and out of compliance with district and state guidelines ~ I was given a combined class of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders ~ most of whom misbehaved badly {all of whom were tested at Below Basic BB & Far Below Basic FBB in their math and English scores. Often the students were rowdy to the point of being incorrigible. I brought this to the attention of all of the administrators and the counselors and the dean regularly ~ to no avail, no one ever come to visit the class or respond to my memos and requests for support or intervention strategies. Next, I was accused of having struck a girl and using profanity against her. (There were no findings worthy of accusation or prosecution by any law enforcement agency * it was all internal investigation and misrepresentation of events accepted as fact). Neither of which were true. Again, I was kept in a re-assignment status ~ this time for more than a year. My payroll kept reflecting an oddly unexplained overpayment status, so I kept only getting a third of my salary, and then I was required to repay more than $10,000 annually. When I asked how or why, I was never given a reason.

    I was finally re-assigned to another middle school where I was subjected to constant harassment and mistreatment. It was such an unfair and hostile working environment, it was unbelievable. There were administrators there who were more like “cronies” whose objective was to stress out teachers to the point of wanting to quit. I was not there for their political approval as much as I was there to continue the mission of providing the most comprehensive instructional program and content-based curriculum lessons I could for the students. Even that was warped and sadly maligned with these individuals. One more than five different occasions I was accused of one infraction after another ~ i was removed from the classroom more than five times ~ each before a graduation or the holidays so that i could not meet with parents or congratulate the students on the merits of their achievements. One day, it became necessary for me to stop a fight ~ this was construed by staff to denigrate me in front of others ` I was branded dangerous, unfit, incompetent, as well as being threatened to be hand-cuffed and led out in front of students during lunch, and much more. It was devastating. When I asked why “she” would want to do that to me, she retorted, “You have no idea what I’m gonna do to you.”

    She was right ~ I have lost my health benefits, all of my pension; I have potentially lost my teaching credentials and my dignity and integrity as an excellent educator for more than twenty years is all but vanished. Because they kept me out of the classroom and switched me around to so many schools back and forth, I cannot garner the letters of recommendation I need to seek further employment. It has been nearly eight months, and I cannot find work as a teacher because of the latent stigma of their disdainful unmerited actions. I cannot enroll in the continuing educational programs that I have sough, because they require one to be actively teaching or working in a classroom setting. The paradox is bewildering and emotionally dismaying. I am unemployed, destitute, vilified, and alone.

    Once such accusations are hurled, and the machine of discrediting one begins ~ given our current climate of “blame the victim” ~ it is virtually an irrefutable consequence of isolation and damnation which seems to be, at this juncture, unrecoverable. Even students know this to be true ~ once I asked a girl in the eighth grade classes I was teaching, whose reading needed my instructional support and assistance and developmental improvement, to please put away her lip gloss and other distracting items to join us in our shared activity of reading and discussion, and focus on the lesson ~ basically, stating it considerably edited ~ she told me to “Shut up or I’ll have you fired.” Her behavior was not uncommon.

    Furthermore, there was no real regard for the students who once again had lost their teacher and had their instructional program disrupted for nonsensical reasons and false allegations. When are we going to put the very needs of the students before our own crass, selfish, politically motivated, and prejudicial motives? One is forbidden from contacting supportive students, or parents, or other faculty or staff during their “investigations” ~ so where is the equity in these matters. The rights of an ordinary American citizen are overlooked in these cases ~ particularly with LAUSD ~ there is no sixth amendment consideration or due process ~ no opportunity to face ones accusers ~ more than once, I didn’t even know the nature of my dismissal or removal from classes ` anything can be blatantly asserted falsely with no accountability ~ lives can be ruined ~ livelihoods decimated with no bearing for it no regard or apology ~ and teaching commissions, politicians {media who should care about these things and report it accurately}, and our society overall seemingly cares too little, if at all, about these dark truths of injustice.

    If you are among those teachers or staff who get to keep your jobs and still achieve excellent work, God Bless You! If you are banished or unlucky like me ~ seeming unprotected by the unions and governing officials who should know more and do more, bilked by the lawyers who work in sync with these groups, abandoned by peers and colleagues who you may have generously and regularly supported, ignored or discounted by the very students you know you have fought for unconditionally ~ it is hard, just to make it from day to day. Thank you again for having this blog and for giving voice to those of us so badly hurt by the betrayal of the system which we had sacrificed so much of our lives to contribute, serve, and endow. I do not know what lies ahead for me ~ the hardships I have been experiencing have steadily increased, and my outlook has progressively dimmed. I may have enough money to eat today ~ I may have paid this months primary bills (health care coverage is more than $1000 a month) but that has depleted all of my financial resources ~ so my money and my savings is virtually gone). If faith in God is real, I shall be delivered ~ if liars and cheats have no karmic consequence for their actions ~ I am doomed. This chance to express my hurt feelings, my demoralized psyche, my sense of despondency and abandonment, and the opportunity to reflect upon my painful consequences ~ has been very fulfilling, though I am not sure it means much of anything to anyone other than myself. So, thank you! Thank you for providing a platform for me, and others, to share their passion and pain given these sad endeavors.

    Most Earnest Regards, H.K. Edwards

  5. Joanna says:

    A child who was allegedly molested in LA was just paid $6.9 million to settle a lawsuit. Until outsized monetary rewards for these cases are stopped, this will never end. My husband is a teacher at a school for highrisk teens, many of whom already have behavioral and emotional issues. I am terrified everyday he goes to work, and urge him to change his career. He is a good looking guy, and girls crush on him regularly, making him a prime target for accusations by some screwed up, drugged out teen. Very scary living life this way!

  6. Mike Owens says:

    No one is exempt from false accusations, even pastors. There is a worldwide, lynch-mob culture that is enabling people to falsely accuse without repercussions.

    As an example, Enumclaw.com is reporting on a small-town pastor that has been falsely accused of rape of a child by hostile ex-church members. We want nothing more than to see this man exonerated, but more so, to stop the trend of false accusations. People need to speak up for local cases, otherwise they will see their own family, friends, and churches under fire from a false accusation. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

    Visit http://www.Enumclaw.com/reprint to learn more about this specific case, and find more great articles to help spread the word. We ask that you repost our articles, or write your own to raise awareness.

  7. Robert Read says:

    I am very interested in this case, as I have been the victim of a malicious false accusation by a student. As my administrator, David Siedelman of Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, considers me too “old-fashioned” a teacher, he LIED about me on a performance evaluation and encouraged my accuser to find other students willing to support her. I currently am off salary and have been waiting for more than a year to have a hearing before the Office of Administrative Hearings in Los Angeles.
    I am truly stunned that a completely frivolous accusation by a student with a known history of lying and disciplinary problems can devastate an instructor’s career when the administrator involves chooses to believe the accusation and to perpetuate it.

  8. Ted Mangan says:

    I’m a filmmaker from Allentown, Pennsylvania. I was contacted by a woman named Myra Richardson, whom wanted me to tell her story. She supplied several links and then apologized for reaching out to me. When viewing some of the information, I was appalled. I contacted this former teacher and asked if she could supply a copy of her book. What I read made me so angry that I felt compelled to do something. I decided to drive 17 hours to Chicago in order to speak with individuals involved in this case. What surprised me even more, was the fact that no person in her city had taken the time to speak with this woman considering the criminal nature of the circumstance, and the children whom suffered as a result of the accusation leveled against Ms. Richardson. I believe that any person within the teaching profession, or any individual whom has ever revered a teacher should see this film. It’s in its raw state, and very moving. But, more than this, it’s frightening when you consider how vulnerable we are as citizens when it comes to trusting our cases to the justice system. What happened to Myra could happen to anyone…and from what I’ve seen and heard, it already is. I will attend the screening along with Myra Richardson for a Q&A following the film. After reading your article Mr. Dean, I thought you might be interested in this screening. Thank you.

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