Madeline Luciano lost her job at a New York City school after her cruel assignment made a student cry.
Artist's impression. (stock photo)
When I was in school, I had to do some dumb assignments. Pointless dittos, word searches, SATs… but none of them were as stupid, not to mention inappropriate, as this one. Not even the time my French teacher made us line up and smell my classmate's hair (not making that up). At least she didn't cry.
Madeline Luciano is a former eighth-grade teacher who worked at P.S. 18 in Inwood, Manhattan. Her troubles started the day one of her students returned to class from dropping off paperwork at the principal's office. Upon reentering the classroom, she found that her bookbag was missing. She and Luciano eventually found the bag, its contents pulled out and damaged. Luciano asked the students what had happened, and they started explaining how much they disliked the girl, calling her "annoying" and "stupid." Up to this point, this could be an ordinary story of kids and their cruel bullying. The next part is where it gets crazy.
According to a report from the Department of Education's Office of Special Investigations, Luciano devised an assignment based off of this incident, in which each of the students in class had to write a letter explaining their reasons for hating the girl. Of course, they immediately took to it, ganging up on the poor kid in a social experiment worthy of Philip Zimbardo. They started shouting out their answers, and one student began writing them down on the chalkboard. Luciano claims she never told this student to start doing this, but the kids tell a different story. Complaints about the girl included "her attitude and how fake she is around people," and that she is an "ugly person."
Mean Girls 2: Mean Teachers. (stock photo)
The assignment only ended when the 13-year-old girl in question started crying. The student writing on the board erased everything and wrote "sorry," and Luciano claims she told the class that "they needed to work as a team and that they needed to treat each other with love." Maybe she should have led by example and not instructed them to do exactly the thing she was reprimanding them for.
Anyway, it won't be an issue anymore. Luciano's principal, Connie Mejia, fired her after she saw the report. What's more, Luciano's DOE security clearance has been revoked, effectively barring her from teaching at another New York City school. She has petitioned to have this ruling overturned, but considering that this incident will appear on her record, it seems unlikely she'd get another job in the city.
What do you think? Is this punishment too severe, or should Madeline Luciano be prevented from teaching? One thing is for sure. She'll never forget what happened that day, and neither will that girl.