The California high school teacher caught on Zoom blasting students and their parents who are concerned about distance learning has been suspended pending an investigation, Fox News reported — and additional accusations about her behavior have emerged.
What's the background?
Alissa Piro, an English teacher at San Marcos High School, told her students that parents with concerns about her performance amid distance learning can "come at me."
Image source: Twitter video screenshot via @ReopenCASchools
"If your parent wants to talk to me about their profession and their opinion on their profession, I would love to hear that," she said during a video session. "I know very little about anything else in the other world other than education."
Piro then added that "if your parent wants to come talk to me about how I'm not doing a good enough job in distance learning based on what you need as an individual — just dare them to come at me. Because I am so sick to my stomach of parents trying to tell educators how to do their job."
Another clip showed Piro hollering at a student who inquired about forming a "white student union" amid other clubs being formed on the basis of race — to which she replied, "You don't need a white student union, Jace! You get everything!"
Students, parents fire back
That student — Jace Jonas — told Fox News that Piro's outburst came after he wrote in the Zoom chat box on the heels of a school announcement regarding the formation of an Asian student union.
"I wanted to make a comment in the Zoom text box, not disrupting the class," Jonas told the cable network. "I commented, 'Why do some races get student unions but others do not?' We should have a student union for all races or no races for true equality."
Jonas told Fox News that Piro paused her lesson before shouting "Goddammit."
"She started berating me about how as a white male I get everything, and it's my duty to look out for minorities and all these racist remarks against whites and males," he recalled to the cable network. "She later called me a moron."
To make matters worse, Fox News said some students sent Jonas hateful messages over his comment.
One mother added to the cable network that she was appalled by Piro's demeanor and that "because of our history with this teacher, I knew I needed to speak out with the abuse and bullying and frankly racism that I saw on that video. The saddest thing to me is that she created an environment in that Zoom classroom for some of the other students to comment mean things..."
Jonas' father contacted assistant principal Kelley Brown about Piro, Fox News said, and described the teacher as "unhinged."
Image source: Fox News video screenshot
"I don't know what school she got her degree at, but maybe she can get her money back," Jonas' father added to the cable network.
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At least three other parents who saw the exchange also reported it to the school and the district, they told Fox.
Jace was granted permission to skip Piro's class for five days. Before he returned, Jace and his father sat down with Piro and Principal Adam Dawson for a "restorative meeting" during which he said Piro apologized.
Despite this, Jace's dad was surprised to find that his son's grade in Piro's class had dropped weeks later.
"Jace was getting straight A's in school. After that incident he had a B in that class," Jim recalled. Piro blamed a computer error and eventually corrected it.
A political debate or English class?
A former student told the cable network that Piro would demean students on a regular basis if they voiced political views opposed to hers.
"She's a good teacher when she's teaching, but these rants aren't new," the former student added to Fox News.
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The student recalled being afraid to participate in Piro's class, a sentiment that was shared by more than three students who spoke exclusively to Fox. She said most of her classmates knew they had to write assignments that were in line with Piro's political views to pass the course and spare themselves the embarrassment of being belittled before their peers.
"I knew I had to change my political views just to please her and get a passing grade," the former student added to Fox News. "She'd either yell or fail you, or make us feel small for what we believe in."
Another student told the cable network that Piro "does often get political about COVID and how she thinks a return to school isn't safe" — and that she often railed against former President Donald Trump's policies.
Principal Adam Dawson agreed that Piro's behavior was "inexcusable" and vowed to address it, Fox News reported, adding that school officials were "deeply concerned" as well but that her "due process and privacy rights" would be upheld amid their investigation.
The cable network said Piro did not respond to repeated requests for comment.