The recent dismissal of a “popular but controversial history teacher” has stirred up a debate between parents, students, and the administration of a progressive Bronx private school. How far is a teacher allowed to go in the classroom in terms of comments to students? And who gets to decide what “how far” really is?
Barry Sirmon, a 58-year old veteran of the school and a political refuge from South Africa, made what some have called controversial and racially provocative comments to a few students. Those comments not only led to Mr. Sirmon’s termination from Fieldston School, but also sparked the current controversy. Already, almost 350 of the 592 students in the school have signed a petition calling for Mr. Simon’s reinstatement.
According to various employees within the school, an investigation was never even conducted regarding the comments before Mr. Sirmon was questioned by the school administration and then terminated. Additionally, although having been asked to immediately resign, Mr. Sirmon refused, asserting that he felt he had done nothing wrong.
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