In May 2011, 51 year old science teacher Stephen Krix was
teaching a Year 10 class at Riverstone High School in Sydney. When he asked a student to take off his headphones and pay attention, he was told to f*** off several times. A confrontation ensued and the student punched him in the face.
What happened next cost him his job. He grabbed the boy and held him in a headlock. The NSW Department of Education said he should have stood down from any physical confrontation and sacked him. His appeal has just been denied.
The Department said its policies and procedures state clearly that disciplinary action will not be taken against teachers who act reasonably in their conduct while disciplining students. In his appeal, Mr Krix said he was acting in self-defence but it didn't count, they said, he should have walked away.
We know the right thing to do is punish the child but the system does the opposite - the teacher is punished because the child is untouchable.
Mr Krix said what we suspected to be true - teachers are frightened to discipline children because of the threat of dismissal. So as the undisciplined child grows into adolescence, never learning there are limits in life that have to be met, the result is utter contempt.
"Eighty per cent of kids are screwed over by the state system because of lack of discipline given to the minority of bad kids who disrupt class" Mr Krix said. "You have to have zero tolerance....if a kid is behaving badly in the classroom, he needs to be extracted and all the kids that are behaving themselves need to be able to get educated." Regarding the student he said "he's just a kid who needed discipline and wasn't getting it. If he's given the guidelines, then he knows where the boundary is."
So who is the student that ended Stephen Krix's career and what's his side of the story? Jarrad O'Hanlon is no longer at Riverstone High, he's now left school and is out somewhere in the world. He said Krix deserved to be sacked because he provoked him. "I don't see asking a student to do his work as provocation" Mr Krix said....."it's me doing my job."
In February 2011, O'Hanlon was suspended for four days for calling Krix a f***wit three times and pushing him in the chest "very hard."
Stephen Krix hoped to make a difference and he's just the type of teacher we need - someone not afraid to demand the respect he deserves. He volunteers his time training the long-term unemployed and ex prisoners and helps kids barred from schools get their School Certificate. He tries to help young people understand why boundaries need to be set and met, if they are to succeed in life.
IRC Commission spokesman Peter Newall said something that is a sad indictment on our education system today. "That teachers can expect to be sworn at and at times physically attacked must make the requirement to maintain calmness, patience, and a disciplined learning environment extremely difficult." No kidding Mr Newall, there's no fooling you.
When a child is born into a family where discipline doesn't exist, it's a tragedy. They never learn what respect really means.