Instead of attending classes Monday, students protested, held signs with the insults teachers used behind their backs including "psychopath" and "not too smart" (Photo from Walla - images of minors blurred)
Here’s a cautionary tale to teachers gossiping about students behind their back: Don’t e-mail the minutes from the teachers’ lounge to the students. One school learned that lesson the hard way this week, after a teacher accidentally hit the “send” button before checking her list of recipients.
A private meeting took place on Sunday at the Rabin High School in Kfar Saba outside Tel Aviv during which candid words were spoken about various students. Instead of e-mailing the minutes to her colleagues, a teacher accidentally sent her 11th grade students a document detailing the derogatory comments the school staff had made about those very students. From there it spread like wildfire into the inboxes of the school population.
Israel Channel 2 Correspondent Dafna Liel broke the story Sunday night and detailed some of the words used to describe the teenagers in the e-mailed document, including: “liar,” “not too smart,” “talks like a four-year-old,” “a grown baby,” “psychopath” and “having a thing for boys.”
The meeting at which the words were expressed was in preparation for an 11th grade trip to Holocaust memorial sites in Poland, a rite-of-passage for many Israeli high school students.
Some of the students named in the e-mail and their friends boycotted classes Monday and instead held a protest at school, holding signs bearing the insults that were used to describe them. They are now considering legal action against the administration.
The students say they don’t blame the teacher who accidentally sent the e-mail, rather the group of teachers who besmirched them.
One girl told Channel 2, “The teacher harmed my good name.”
The teachers said of one student: “[She’s a] grown baby, not too smart, she has laughing fits.”
The boys were also dissed, one being called a “sociomat,” a slang word that loosely translates to psychopath or misanthrope, someone who is self-centered and exhibits anti-social behavior. Of this boy, it was also said that “he can’t control himself.”
Eleventh grader Danielle Michaeli whom teachers had described as “having a thing for boys” told Israel’s Channel 2 News, “I have no words to describe how much I was hurt.” (Hebrew link of the interview can be found here).
She said, “It hurt me that teachers are gossiping about the students and are talking in that kind of insulting language about things that are totally irrelevant.”
Adding insult to injury, Michaeli said the teachers’ impression was inspired by a private conversation she had held with the school guidance counselor to whom she had confided that she got along better with the boys in her class. She says she had told the counselor that perhaps she should try to strike up more friendships with the girls in her class, with whom she got along less well.
Michaeli explained, “What the teachers wrote wasn’t at all relevant to the trip to Poland. My friend is allergic to bees but they didn’t write that about her. They wrote about her that she’s a liar.”
The school’s principle Ruth Lazar in an effort at damage control sent a written apology to the students. “We apologize from the bottom of our hearts and honestly to all the students, parents and educational colleagues for the anguish that was caused. We take full responsibility for the severe failure and apologize…”
“We will draw conclusions regarding our actions and regarding how we express ourselves and converse among us,” Lazar wrote according to Channel 2.
“The document that was accidentally sent does not reflect the relationship between the school teachers and the students and their parents, nor our daily work,” the principle added.
With education in Israel being government-run, politicians were quick to jump in. Member of Knesset Karin Elharar said the student protest was “justified.”
She said, “This isn’t about a teacher who made a fatal error but about a document that should never have been created.”
“Teachers who label their pupils prevent other from forming their own opinions, and even more so when it is a label that is hurtful, offensive, and degrading, and has no place in the education system” Elharar added.
The Education Ministry has issued a statement that it’s taking the matter seriously and is now investigating. It has also summoned the teacher who sent the offending document.