U-46 fires substitute teacher who taunted student

 
 
Updated 2/19/2015 2:11 PM
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  • A screenshot of the video shot by Streamwood High School freshman Stephen Davis of a substitute teacher mocking him in class.

    A screenshot of the video shot by Streamwood High School freshman Stephen Davis of a substitute teacher mocking him in class.

  • Elgin Area School District U-46 has fired the substitute teacher who mocked Stephen Davis, 15, a freshman at Streamwood High School.

      Elgin Area School District U-46 has fired the substitute teacher who mocked Stephen Davis, 15, a freshman at Streamwood High School. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

Elgin Area School District U-46 has fired the substitute teacher who taunted a Streamwood High School student in class with a crude drawing and an insulting caption, a school official said Wednesday.

"We are not allowing this substitute teacher back in U-46," said John Heiderscheidt, the district's coordinator of safety and security.

Heiderscheidt, who would not identify the teacher, said he was unsure how long he had worked for the district.

The taunting remark was leveled at Stephen Davis, a 330-pound, 15-year-old freshman, during a math class last Thursday.

The substitute teacher joined in on the taunting when a student drew a cartoonlike sketch of a person on the whiteboard at the front of the class. The teacher added to the mockery by adding the phrase "Stephen's ugly ass," according to Stephen.

Told by the Daily Herald of the teacher's firing, Stephen said, "Finally. That's good."

Stephen recorded a video of the drawing using his smartphone, which caught national and international media attention. He originally posted the video on YouTube, followed by his sister, Brianna Davis, who posted it on a "School District U-46 Uncensored" Facebook page. YouTube has since taken down the video.

The teacher was initially suspended while U-46 administrators investigated the matter thoroughly, reviewing the video and interviewing witnesses, including Stephen and other students who were in the classroom at the time.

"All of those things we found were credible information," Heiderscheidt said. "The information corroborated with the story of the student who was the victim."

Stephen questioned why the district took so long.

"What was there to investigate, really? He should have been fired before, but at least he is now," he said. "I'm actually hoping he won't work around children again."

Substitute teachers are licensed by the Illinois State Board of Education and hired by school districts as needed.

U-46 has notified the state board of its decision, which could result in the revocation of the teacher's license to work as a substitute, Heiderscheidt said.

"We have opened an educator misconduct case to review the facts of this case and determine whether or not we want to pursue licensure action," ISBE spokeswoman Mary Fergus said.

Stephen said he is glad he stood up for himself. "Someone has to in this world," he said.

Brianna Davis said now that the teacher has been fired, the district can deal with the behavior of its students.

"We are definitely very satisfied with what happened," she said.

Heiderscheidt said the district will respond to allegations of abusive behavior with expediency no matter who makes the report or how it is made.

"We investigate those situations immediately, act accordingly and evaluate all of the evidence," he said. "Our relationships in our buildings are so important to us. This obviously was not an example of what we would call the relationships that we wish to have with our students and our staff members."

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