Do your job...and what do you get?
From The Arizona Daily Star:
School arrest puts TUSD librarian on paid leave
By George B. Sánchez
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 05.30.2008
A Tucson Unified School District librarian has been on paid leave for three months, after he was arrested for trespassing at a middle school.
Richard Choquette, 52, refused to leave Valencia Middle School, 4400 W. Irvington Road, on Feb. 28, one day after he was put on administrative leave for putting a student in an empty room to isolate her from her classmates. Choquette confirmed what two reports from the Pima County Sheriff's Department say: that deputies were called about the incident and he was arrested on campus.
District officials wouldn't comment on the incident because Choquette's criminal trial is pending. He earns $64,535 annually, excluding benefits, said Karen Bynum, a TUSD spokeswoman.
Choquette doesn't deny isolating the student as a disciplinary and academic tactic.
"Over nine years, I've done it hundreds of times," he said.
Nor does he deny trespassing, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of four months in jail and a $750 fine, said Paul Gattone, his attorney.
As a member of Valencia's site council, Choquette said it was his right to attend the council's meeting the day he was arrested, despite the administrative leave, which mandates he stay away from the campus, students, parents and staff.
"Those meetings are open to the public," Gattone said. "In any case, he had a right to be there."
Still, according to the Sheriff's Department reports, Choquette did not seemed surprised at the presence of deputies.
"You guys are probably here because I'm supposed to not be here," he is quoted as saying.
The deputies gave him the opportunity to leave and receive a citation instead of going to jail.
The report continues:
"Mr. Choquette advised me that he believed that he was going to make a statement by going to jail. He stated that he knows that it may be a personal sacrifice on his part, but he believed that he was going to capitalize on this situation and he was going to make money off of this because he was being treated very wrongly," the report states.
Choquette was placed on leave because a female student complained about him, stating she was locked in a closet. He said she was not locked in a closet but placed in a meeting room within the library. The room cannot be locked, he said.
A student would be placed in the room, the librarian said, to keep classes in order and give the young person an individual reading space. The student in question was verbally disruptive that day, he recalled. She wasn't the only one, he added.
"On Monday, the day of that incident, there were several other students that had to be removed to isolated areas," he said.
Asked if the principal, or other administrators, knew of the tactic, Choquette said:
"I don't see how they couldn't. I had been using it as a routine measure."
But the practice is unacceptable, said Chyrl Hill Lander, another TUSD spokeswoman.
"We expect our students to be supervised at all times," she said. "It is not appropriate to separate kids into empty rooms when there's no adult supervision."
The student was part of a class in the library that day, Choquette recalled, and her teacher was aware that the girl was placed in a room by herself. That the teacher was not disciplined causes Choquette to believe he is being targeted by TUSD administrators.
By his own admission, this isn't the first accusation against him. In 2001, he said, he was accused of assaulting a student, though he said there was insufficient evidence to support the claim.
Despite his problems with administrators and students, Choquette said he is "passionately devoted" to teaching. Since he has been on administrative leave, he said he has been researching free-speech rights as they apply to public schools and public employees, what he calls "principal abuse" and student discipline. Choquette has contributed numerous guest opinions to the Arizona Daily Star's editorial page.
Even if he is convicted of trespassing, Choquette said he expects to return to work in the TUSD.
● Contact reporter George B. Sánchez at 573-4195 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do I need to say more?
This man is doing his job, teaching children who want to be taught.
He is removing those who dont want to be taught.
Whats the problem?
This is an outrage.