A veteran Chicago teacher is suing the school district after he was
suspended and charged with possessing tools that school officials said
violated their weapons policy.
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Doug Bartlett, a second grade teacher at Washington Irving Elementary
School, was suspended for four days after administrators determined
the tools he used for visual aids endangered students.
In 2011 Bartlett was teaching a mandated course on tools. He showed
students several tools that he used in his classroom including
wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, a box cutter, and a small pocketknife.
He explained how the tools were used and kept the items secured in a
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The visual aids were used in an effort to facilitate student
understanding and remembrance of the curriculum, the lawsuit states.
As he displayed the box cutter and pocketknife, Plaintiff
specifically described the proper use of these tools. Neither of these
items was made available to the students.
Several days later, the 17-year veteran teacher received a notice that
he was under investigation for possessing, carrying, storing and using
a weapon and for negligently supervising children. He was then
suspended four days without pay.
John Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, filed a federal
lawsuit on Bartletts behalf claiming his civil rights were violated.
This school districts gross overreaction to a simple teaching
demonstration on basic tools such as wrenches and pliers underscores
exactly what is wrong with our nations schools, Whitehead said.
Education truly suffers when school administrators exhibit such poor
judgment and common sense.
A spokesman for the City of Chicago School District 299 did not return
calls seeking comment.
Whitehead said Bartlett is the victim of a zero tolerance policy run
The lawsuit claims the teacher had no idea that he could be subjected
to disciplinary action for possessing common household tools in a
classroom discussion that was mandated by the district.
Bartlett wants his record expunged as well as a financial settlement.