No Class: Teacher Reassigned After Ridiculing Student’s Anti-Dissection Stance

A Florida middle school teacher has been disciplined after taunting a 13-year-old student for choosing not to dissect a frog during science class. According to the student, the teacher snuck up behind her, shoved a bag of dead frogs in her face, dropped the bag on her binder, and then laughed at her in front of her classmates when she began to cry. The teacher also told students in other classes that they would be sent to the principal’s office if they tried to opt out of dissection. The teacher's actions were not only insensitive and inappropriate, but also violated the student’s legal right under the state’s choice-in-dissection law to opt out of dissection. Ten states, including Florida, currently have laws allowing students to object to dissection and use alternatives instead. Florida’s law allows middle and high school students to refuse to participate in classroom exercises that harm animals upon written consent from a parent or guardian, without being penalized for doing so.

Responding to media attention surrounding the incident, the school district conducted an investigation, which resulted in the board issuing the teacher a disciplinary warning letter and ordering her to undergo sensitivity training. Additionally, the Florida State Board of Education reassigned her to another school, required her to be retrained, and placed a disciplinary letter in her district and state files. The teacher will not be permitted to have her own class for the 2012 school year and will instead shadow a teacher in a different school. Meanwhile, the district is considering whether to replace animal dissections with humane alternatives.

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