Teachers should be able to take care of themselves, and tenure rears its ugly head again.
There's a teacher at my middle school who has something funky going on. I missed a 9-1-1 call for her early on in the school year after she passed out and was stumbling around mumbling incoherently one morning. They ran all sorts of tests, supposedly, and nothing was diagnosed for certain. Just last week, on a day I was there, she reportedly passed out briefly during class. The teacher, Ms. L, was recovering in the staff lounge when I met her while making copies. She was dazed, confused, and unsteady on her feet. An announcement came over the P.A. system for a school club meeting, and she asked what the club name Legacy meant - a name she should recognize. This was at the very end of the day, and her partner, also a teacher at the school, quickly escorted her out and home.
Yesterday morning I asked what happened with her. No one knows for certain what Ms. L's condition is; she won't say and neither will her partner. I told the secretary it makes me uncomfortable to have a clearly medically unstable teacher in my hands who will not disclose a thing about her condition to anyone. Not surprisingly, she has troubles in the classroom as well: giving kids the wrong grades, can't remember anything about any of her students, etc. I was told the school was piling up a stack of documentation as well as parent complaints against her in hopes she would be removed from the classroom - but since she's been working for the district for 37 years (29 if you ask Ms. L. herself, 37 if you ask anyone else), it's not going to be easy.
At 2:30 in the afternoon yesterday I was summoned to Ms. L.'s classroom, and told to bring a wheelchair. At the turn of the classes between 5th and 6th periods, students had knocked Ms. L. over and her knee was bleeding. I spent over an hour with her between my office and her classroom, and was shocked at what I heard and saw from her. She's a bitter woman who can only talk about the kids being "animals" (granted, they can be sometimes), wanting to retire but complaining she can't afford to. Ms. L. repeated the same things to me, asked the same questions, and mixed up words in sentences. I asked if she was on blood thinners because the slight scrape on her knee would not stop bleeding, and she said she doesn't even take aspirin - a direct contradiction of what the all-knowing yard duty told me about Ms. L. minutes earlier, which was that she had a stroke a few months ago and was on blood-thinners. I tried to use the opportunity I had with her to talk about her medical condition, and all she said was that she had a severe vitamin B12 deficiency that was recently discovered and since then she's been much better.
Needless to say, even if her condition has improved, she appears completely unfit to teach. By the time I left work, my blood sugar was dropping so low from missing my usual after-school snack that I didn't have the energy to discuss it further with the staff there, but I plan to next week. Mostly I was just very disturbed that a woman that likely needs serious medical care is responsible for teaching classrooms of 30+ kids.