Teacher Threatens Kids With Killer Robots, Walks Away With Fat Settlement

teacher threatens kids with killer robots

I'm sure a lot of teachers use humor as a coping method when their jobs get frustrating. I'm sure a lot of teachers even joke to their students about how they occasionally imagine various fictional ways to get the kids to pay attention in class, like maybe through the use of helpful robots that encourage the kids to focus. But robots that also carry out the teacher's command to execute every teenager who acts out in class? I'm pretty sure as a parent that would worry me, so I'm not surprised a San Diego County teacher was forced to resign for voicing that exact fantasy.

High school biology teacher Tuyet-Mai Thi Vo resigned from Oceanside Unified School District after she was investigated for telling her students that if she could, she'd program cyborgs to kill any student who misbehaved or didn't turn in their homework. Interestingly, she then received a glowing letter of recommendation from the superintendent and collected a $92,000 settlement on her way out the door.

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Wait, I can get paid almost 100 grand for threatening children with an army of Cylons? Where do I sign up for this intriguing job opportunity?

According to a district report,

Ms. Vo told her class that if robots were teachers, Ms. Vo would program the robot to shoot the students every time the students didn’t pay attention, talked back, or even talked at all. Ms. Vo told her class she would program the robot to zap the students with a Taser if the students failed to complete homework assignments or arrived late to class. Ms. Vo told her class she would program the robot to kill all of the students.

That's what the students claim, anyway. After the investigation, which included reports of other hostile encounters including allegations Vo once "forcefully grabbed and ripped a student’s shirt," she was put on paid leave from January 23, 2012 until June 30, 2013, before leaving district employment with the cash settlement, plus 18 more months of family health benefits (which are still in effect) at a cost of $1,949 a month.

Vo had also apparently refused to sign an 2012 assistance plan about her quality of instruction, which noted that more than 70 percent of students in her five science classes received a D or F grade after 12 weeks. In June of 2012, the superintendent wrote that Vo "jeopardized the safety and welfare of the district’s staff and students by engaging in immoral conduct not befitting a teacher," but weirdly, he went on to write her a recommendation letter after she resigned, praising her “commitment to the academic achievement of students." Whaaaat?

As for Vo's side of the story:

That is not reflective of who I am. What the district claimed was alleged. Alleged means they are not true. (...) No one forced the superintendent to sign, and they know that letter of recommendation is an affirmation that this whole thing was wrong and it’s clear as a bell

An attorney who's been reviewing teacher dismissal administrative hearings from 2003 to 2013 says the system often prevents bad teachers from being terminated with cause:

I certainly don’t think the current system is working. We have so many protections in the law in California today against discriminatory behavior by employers, and especially public employers, we don’t need all those (teacher) protections today. They are only there as obstacles. They are a compliance list and they don’t go to the heart of the matter, which is, should the person be teaching students or not?

But don't worry -- Vo doesn't want to go back into teaching. Her goal:

To eventually move out of the classroom to administration where I can best support teachers and students and to serve the community the best way I can. That’s why the letter of recommendation is for an administrative position.

Oh okay she wants to move into administration, that sounds perfectly ... uhhhh, wait. Yikes.

Honestly, I don't know what really happened here, but it sounds like there was a decent amount of evidence that this woman wasn't a great teacher. I'd definitely be concerned if my kids' teacher's class was consistently getting such low grades year after year, and unless she was making a Battlestar Galactica joke, telling her students that she wished she could kill them with giant robots is no good. Pretty scary that she collected so much cash and may be moving on to an even more integral education position.

What do you think about this? Does it seem fishy this teacher received such inconsistent feedback about her job performance?


Image via cayoup/Flickr

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