9OYS Education Watch

Catastrophe Award teacher resigns

CREATED Jun. 20, 2012

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  • The Desert Springs Academy teacher who handed a Catastrophe Award to one of her 3rd grade students will not return in the fall. Video by 1041thetruth.com

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Reporter: Valerie Cavazos

TUCSON  (KGUN9-TV) --  The Desert Springs Academy teacher who handed a Catastophe Award to one of her 3rd grade students has resigned.

There's no question the Catastrophe Award hit a nerve -- not only here in Tucson but nationwide. The KGUN9 website, facebook and others across the country became a hotbed of debate.  Some blamed the mother of the student for shirking her duties as a parent and others criticized the teacher's judgment and demanded she be fired.

Governing Board President Lydia Capara said Jeanmarie Plowman offered her resignation this month and the school accepted it.

Capara said, "That was a decision she made because she was terribly upset over the whole situation, which was very difficult, of course." Difficult, she said, because the story went viral and the school was inundated with phones call and emails supporting and criticizing the 3rd grade teacher for giving a catastrophe award to a student in front of the class -- a reaction that surprised the school, the board and the teacher.

One organization, Change.org, even launched a nationwide  petition urging that administrators reprimand the teacher.

Capara says the board thought the catastrophe award was extreme. "The awards were given in the classroom and actually the board didn't know anything about it. That definitely is not something that we agree with." The school touts positive reinforcement as part of their school's mission in their Parent Handbooks.

The mother of 3rd grader Cassandra Garcia says her daughter will not  return to the school. Capara said, "We were very sorry had been hurt in any way shape or form. She's a wonderful little girl." Capara said she's also sorry to see the teacher leave "because she's an excellent teacher and I wish her well."

KGUN 9 contacted Cassandra's mother, Christina Valdez, to get her reaction. Valdez said she never wanted the teacher to leave the school. She said she just wanted to make sure other students did not receive a similar award.

Capara said all the teachers have been told not to give out negative award in the future, however,  she said the board feels it does not plan to make any changes in their policies.