Farmington — Teachers union representatives are trying to reinstate a Shiprock High School teacher who prevented a student from using the restroom, resulting in the student urinating in front of the class.
The incident happened Oct. 30 when the school was placed on a lockdown while local law enforcement officials conducted a drug sweep. Students filmed the incident on their cell phones.
Central Consolidated School District spokesman James Preminger confirmed the incident occurred and said the teacher has been discharged. He declined to name the teacher or the teacher's position at Shiprock High School.
"A teacher did refuse to allow a student to use the restroom, despite the student asking repeatedly," Preminger said.
He said three students used cell phones to capture the student urinating in the classroom. Preminger did not disclose the student's name or gender.
District officials became aware of the footage after the student's parent notified the school principal about the incident.
Preminger said the principal obtained two videos while the third was deleted by the student.
The lockdown was routine but unannounced. Preminger said the district expects teachers to use "reasonable" judgment when a lockdown is in place.
"We believe this is a clear case where a teacher failed to use reasonable judgment," he said.
The Northwest New Mexico branch of the National Education Association, the labor union representing employees of public education institutions, is appealing the termination.
Ewa Krakowska, director of the Northwest branch, said the incident happened, but the teacher was unaware students were filming it and did not encourage such actions.
"That's why we feel it is a wrongful termination," she said.
Krakowska, a former teacher, said it is nearly impossible for a teacher to monitor the actions of 25 students at the same time.
"There's no way you can control every student," she said.
She declined to comment further because the union has filed an appeal to the CCSD board.
Preminger said it will be up to the board to decide whether or not to schedule a hearing, and board members are expected to discuss the matter in executive session at Tuesday's regular school board meeting.Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nsmithdt on Twitter.