Follow-Up on Suspended NC Science Teacher

A couple of months ago we posted North Carolina Science Teacher in Big Trouble. It was about Melissa Hussain, an eighth-grade science teacher who was suspended with pay because of complaints about comments on her Facebook page, many of them describing her interaction with Christian students.

This wasn’t, strictly speaking, a controversy about creationism in science class, but we’ve written before about science teachers who had problems in creationist communities, and this case seemed to have similar elements. It appeared to us that Melissa, a science teacher with the exotic surname of Hussain, was involved in a multi-level culture clash in North Carolina that was interfering with her role as a teacher.

However, this drama was taking place in Wake County, North Carolina, which isn’t what anyone would consider the boondocks. It’s a rather sophisticated area. So what was Melissa’s problem?

She had written on Facebook that it was a “hate crime” when students anonymously left a Bible on her desk, accompanied by an anonymous card which said “Merry Christmas” — with Christ underlined and bolded. Not only that, but she had posted about a student who put a postcard of Jesus on her desk — which she threw in the trash. She also wrote that students were spreading rumors that she was a Jesus hater. (We wonder what could have given them that idea?)

She complained that her students were wearing Jesus T-shirts and singing “Jesus Loves Me.” And she objected to students reading the Bible instead of doing class work.

These seemed like odd activities in a science class, but it also seemed that Melissa didn’t handle such incidents very well, and her students therefore took delight in taunting her. Also, it was exceedingly indiscreet of her to post about these things on Facebook, where all the world could see what she wrote.

Anyway, we’ve been curious about what became of Melissa Hussain. Now we know. At the UPI website we read Teacher in Facebook row out of classroom. Here are a couple of excerpts, with bold added by us:

A Muslim teacher in North Carolina embroiled in a controversy about comments on her Facebook page has been reassigned to an office job.

That’s the first confirmation we’ve had that she’s a Muslim. All in all, this transfer isn’t a bad move. Melissa appeared to be ill-suited for classroom work — at least in that environment. Let’s read on:

Melissa Hussain, who was suspended with pay for several weeks, is now coordinating middle school science teaching in the Wake County school district, The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer reported. She is making the same salary she did as a science teacher at West Lake Middle School near Apex.

Moved out of the classroom and into administration. No surprise, and it’s a soft landing for Melissa. That’s often the way these things work out.

But a few questions remain. For example, what, exactly, is “coordinating science teaching” all about? Was there already such a coordinator in Wake County? If so, what happened to that person? Or was this “coordinating” job created just for Melissa?

There’s also the big issue: Was Melissa an incompetent teacher who couldn’t control either herself or her students? Or was she a great and dedicated teacher, horribly out of place in a sea of ignorance and intolerance? We’ll probably never revisit this matter, so the questions will just linger.

And that’s how the story ends. Melissa, we hardly knew ye.

Update: See Melissa Hussain: Her Side of the Controversy.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

4 responses to “Follow-Up on Suspended NC Science Teacher

  1. I believe a science coordinator is a curriculum coordinator position. Schools are really into “vertical” and “horizontal” team planning to ensure “seamless” education that builds on itself and is mutually reinforcing (like pairing math/science lessons and history/literature lessons).

    The proper response to her students would be to ignore the proselytizing and continue to teach excellent science. If she needed to address the students, it would have been best to say that discussions on religion belong in a philosophy class and not in a science class and just move on from there.

  2. David Walz

    This sounds like a “make work” job. I’ve seen these situations where people that can’t be fired are shuffled off to made up positions. It’s a sign that one’s employer is giving you a year of pay while you look for another position outside the ‘firm’. It’s the ‘long goodbye’.

  3. After the classroom imbroglio, it would probably be counter-productive to put the teacher back with that same class.

    It seems like the issue exploded when the teacher’s Facebook page became public in December/January. Unbeknownst to FB users, previously private content became public.

    I understand that teachers cannot reveal confidential information about students. I don’t understand why they can’t vent – generally, non-specifically – to their friends/family.

  4. Cheryl Shepherd-Adams says:

    I don’t understand why they can’t vent – generally, non-specifically – to their friends/family.

    They can and do vent. But the rules are different on the internet. Like Adam & Eve, we can’t go back to Eden.