Teacher accused of biting student

vorheesville teacher alleged biterUpdate April 18, 2012: The charge against Guerette has been dropped.
____

Easily the weirdest story of the day: the Albany County Sheriff's Office says a 5th grade teacher at Vorheesville Elementary has been arrested for allegedly biting a student. During an arm wrestling competition.

From the press release:

The incident allegedly occurred on December 13, 2011 during classroom instructional time during which Guerette allowed a male fifth grade student to engage in arm wrestling with him. During the wrestling, other students including the victim became excited and were pulling and pushing on the child's arm who was wrestling Guerette trying to cause the student to win the arm wrestling match. During this ruckus the victim reached her arm across the desk in front of Guerette pulling on the hand of the student who was wrestling the teacher. Guerette opened his mouth and bit the female student in the forearm leaving what the student said were teeth marks. The bite mark eventually turned to bruising on the child's arm which was still visible 48 hours later when examined by school officials.

The sheriff's office says the teacher -- Michael Guerette -- self reported the alleged incident to the school's principal. Also: an "investigation has not revealed any misconduct of a sexual nature."

The full press release is embedded after the jump.

Update: Cassie says Guerette was one of her teachers -- be sure to read her comment.

Update: The school district has a posted a statement about the situation. Here's a clip:

Our first concern is always for the safety of our students, which makes incidents of this nature difficult to comprehend and impossible to justify.
Mr. Guerette will remain on leave from all duties while the district awaits the resolution of the charge against him. We are also continuing to consult with officials from the State Education Department on the appropriate disciplinary actions.

Guerette Arrest 12 211 2011

Comments

Wow. This beat out the grandmother selling Christmas gifts for crack for weirdest story of the day? Although I guess the grandma/crack story is more sad than weird.

I have *really* got to move to a more normal area. IS there a more normal area of the world?

@Siobhan: That was my thought about the grandma crack story -- that is was more about the sad, awful effects of addiction than anything else. This one is just... weird.

Who cares? Wow, you reported it to the police? The teacher meant no harm and now the idiots will push out an experienced teacher. Man, this country has turned into a bunch of babies. Wahhh. Back home this would have been funny, he would have apologized and people would move on. I'm sure the girl is fine, but of course now everyone is going to assume the worst and take a hardline action. And of course people will ask, why was he arm wrestling a student? "He should be teaching, kids can't read or write or do math, they're all dumb and this teacher is arm wrestling" Yup attack him over such an insignificant thing. I hope the parents and student drop this and move on and the teacher, who I'm sure has already learned his lesson, can continue teaching. Man, this stuff drives me crazy when people over react. And if it was my daughter I would have told her she shouldn't have let herself get bit, is that mean or careless? no it's just about learning to deal with things that happen. So now this learning lesson will be, Whenver does something you don't like , make sure you tell everyone and get them fired, because no one should ever cross you. Remember this the next time you stand in line and hear a customer cuss out a manager becuase an employee told them "no". I'm sorry if this seems like a rant, but it is. We're becoming a bunch of babies as a society, never want to deal with anything, and always want the boss/government/administration/board/parents/police and whoever to deal with anything we don't like.

While a little odd, it does seem like it was probably an innocent and playful type of thing. If he's a teacher that's arm wrestling with his students and they're all getting in on the fun of beating the teacher, it probably was just a silly thing for him to do with no intent to be creepy or cause harm. "Endangering the Welfare of a Child" sounds kind of extreme.

@Joe: For what it's worth, the sheriff's office says the teacher reported the incident himself, and the school district reported it to the authorities in accordance with its policies.

@Valerae: I had a similar thought. But you gotta draw the line somewhere -- and I think biting a student, playfully or otherwise, is probably across it.

I went to Voorheesville and Mr.Guerette was one of my teachers. Should he have bit the girl? No. However, I don't think he should have been formally charged. He made a mistake...one that he reported on his own.

He is one of the best teachers I had in all my years at Voorheesville. He cares about each and everyone of his students and always tried to make learning fun. It is sad that something like this has happened. I truly hope that he is cleared and is able to keep his job as it would be a shame for future students to not experience the joy he brings to learning.

Firstly, I've met that teacher and he appeared to be a good one. Now, onto the issue at hand. Everyone please imagine that the student bitten was your daughter. You get a phone call from the school stating that your child's teacher bit her in the classroom. How do you feel about it? This may seem like a weird story, but it's assault. An adult bit a child. If this had happened at Crossgates or Washington Park, the public would be all over him. He needs to be let go, period.

I think the reaction to this incident calls for some common sense.

A bite by a teacher on a student's arm that results in teeth marks and bruising is clearly more than "who cares - it's just innocent playfulness." It should not be downplayed or dismissed, and needs to run its course through the school district's disciplinary process and the county's judicial process in a way that takes the student's rights into account. At the same time, the incident should be judged based on facts that can be substantiated, and within a context of the teacher's job performance and the school district's experience with the teacher.

It's easy to jump to conclusions one way or another in an incident like this; it's more difficult to take an approach that balances the rights of everyone involved.

> Everyone please imagine that the student bitten was your daughter.

No, everyone please *not*, that's the wrong thing to do in my opinion, to judge the guy with an emotional veil. The whole "what if it was your kid" argument just escalates *so fast*. Look at what you are saying already. An *assault*? It was playful, she didn't lose her arm, he made a mistake, reported it... and you want him to lose his job. Around Christmas time. In this economy (as they say). A warning, a suspension maybe, but his job? I recommend the Grievance page. Oh wait, Summer beats you to it :)

Mr. G is a great teacher and anyone who knows him would agree. Also, vville is a silly place and this isnt serious and has no potential for future incidents. If you really think that he deserves to be fired for such a simple mistake that he took upon himself to report then you should live in a bubble. Point is, if you don't fully understand the nature of either him or his classroom environment you shouldn't speak out because what is it to you? Nothing maybe you'll feel good about yourself. But you could destroy a wonderful career for a fantastic teacher. Hoping things are resolved quickly and painlessly Mr. G.

What I wonder is why a teacher was arm wrestling with fifth graders on school, anyway. That, alone, seems inappropriate to me.

I also had Mr. G as a teacher. He's a really good guy and a good teacher - he just likes to goof around. There was no malicious intent, clearly - doesn't that count for anything? And why would arm wrestling students seems inappropriate? I mean it's not the greatest use of time, perhaps, but come ON. The police shouldn't be involved. It's a shame this whole thing happened.

Unfortunate incident but the result is very little harm done - the teacher is probably racking myself over the coals for initiating this activity that got out of hand.

Hey, it's Christmastime how about a little amnesty here!!!

I had Mr. Guerrette as my fifth grade teacher over ten years ago, and it stands to this day that he was the best teacher I had throughout all of my schooling. His playful demeanor as an educator taught me more about life than I was fully capable of realizing at the time and his character I still hold in the highest esteem. If Voorheesville casts aside this man for a mistake that he so quickly owned up to, my dwindling faith in the education system is all but gone.

Both of my kids had Mr. G as a 5th grade teacher, and both loved him. He established a classroom atmosphere of fun and learning - kids could wiggle and not get in trouble. The arm wrestling does not surprise me, but instead sounds entirely consistent with Mr. G. The biting thing, though, while this might have been funny and playful at home, it was over the line for a teacher. A pretend bite? Okay. But the real thing? No. Hopefully a reprimand, hopefully he gets to keep his job and positively influence more kids, hopefully he learns to draw a quicker line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior for a teacher.

The teacher sounds pretty nuts to me.

Hopefully this teacher's union will be representing him so he gets a fair hearing. To me it sounds like he acted somewhat "inappropriately" (that overused word) in a few seconds of fooling around with the kids, but there should be a sense of proportion in meting out discipline. Is this one misstep (with no real harm done to the child) really worth firing him and destroying a career? Surely there are other, less drastic, penalties such as paying a hefty fine.

No wonder people don't want to get into teaching when there is "zero tolerance" for apparently dumb but innocent mistakes.

Mr. Guerrette was the best teacher I ever had. I was never a perfect child, am still not a perfect person, but Mr. Guerrette always had the patience to put up with my antics. I learned more from him than I did from some of my high school teachers because he always took the time to make sure we understood the material. He made class ENJOYABLE. And he was never inappropriate in any way.

The way that the school district is crucifying him, and even some of the community members on here who have never met the man, is deplorable. He is a good man and from all the support that I know he has gotten it appears the rest of the community knows it as well, as it should be. We should all be so lucky to have a teacher like Mr. Guerrette.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.

Search

Recently on All Over Albany

Today's moment of autumn

Who doesn't enjoy some mums in September?... (more)

The Albany Book Festival is this coming weekend and it also includes a big list of local authors

A reminder that the first Albany Book Festival is this Saturday, September 29 on UAlbany's uptown campus. The lineup is absolutely stacked with prominent authors,... (more)

Drawing: Oktoberfest Block Party VIP tickets

The annual Oktoberfest block party in North Albany organized by Wolff's is this Saturday, September 29. We have two VIP tickets for the festival to... (more)

Anarchists in the townhome

Over at the Times Union, Lynda Williams profiles a group of freegan anarchists who have been squatting in a vacant Albany townhome without utilities for... (more)

The deadline to apply for this year's $2,500 AOA Startup Grant is this week! And you should apply! Yes, you!

How's that entry for this year's AOA Startup Grant coming along? The deadline for entering this year's $2,500 AOA Startup Grant contest is this Wednesday,... (more)

Recent Comments

Saturday afternoon walks through Washington Park on the way to the Lionhart pub, to get in those last few enjoyable warmish weather days on the patio while enjoying a seasonal pint of craft brew....yum...

Drawing: Oktoberfest Block Party VIP tickets

...has 33 comments, most recently from Jenn

Morning Blend for Sep 24

...has 1 comment, most recently from ace

Mapping out the future for an alternative transportation network in the Capital District

...has 3 comments, most recently from ivan vamos

Stuff to do this weekend

...has 3 comments, most recently from Rich

All the current Stewart's seasonal summer ice cream flavors, ranked

...has 7 comments, most recently from Amy Smith