Did Paterson School cellphone policy promote teacher student fight?

In a recent article, a teacher student fight resulted from a teacher confiscating the students cell phone. Other students who were present in the classroom posted the evidence on YouTube. Teachers who confiscate student’s personal property must use alternative strategies that avoid teacher student fights.

According to the New York Daily Times, The 23-second clip shows a freshman at John F. Kennedy High School in Paterson manhandling a middle-aged teacher. The student wraps his arm around the teacher, drags him through the front of the classroom and then throws him onto the ground, and appears to hit him several times.

The physics teacher, who is 62, makes no attempt to fight back and none of the other students try to stop the fight, but one mutters, “Yo, chill!” when the student throws down his teacher as another classmate calls for security.

New Jersey.com reported that David Cozart, principal of operations at JFK, said the incident happened during a physics class. He said the teacher apparently confiscated the phone — which belonged to the assailant — from another student. The principal said students are allowed to use cellphones in class for academic purposes, but staff may take the devices and return them at the end of the day if students use them for other reasons.

The first problem with the cellphone policy is that it only works if the student trust the teacher. Black students have difficulty with trusting White teachers for several reasons.

  • Black students have difficulty accepting teachers as the primary source of knowledge due to becoming accustomed to sharing information on an equal basis with adults rather than the adult teaching them.
  • Many teachers treat Black high school students as though they are incapable decision makers that require their permission to do everything even though the student has had experience caring for younger brothers and sisters, teaching them safety and personal hygiene skills, and taking care of the home.
  • Black students withdraw from the instructional process or become discontented with whatever the teacher does when the teacher hinders student spontaneity and enthusiasm and punished the student by requiring the student to raise his or her hand in order to be recognized.

When the student asked for his phone to be returned, the teacher should have returned it and submitted a discipline referral to the school administrator. This would have avoided any type of incident which could lead to a teacher student fight.


Another challenge is the instructional content of the Physics class. While Paterson Public Schools do not reveal the prerequisites for Physics, the bigger problem for this student may be frustration from an inability to meet classroom expectations which lead to the teacher student fight. At a minimum the student should have had extensive success with Algebra. It leads me to ask:

Why is a Paterson Public School ninth grader taking a Physics course?

Another problem is the relationship that the Physics teacher had with the other students in the class. It is very evident that he did not have positive classroom relationships with the students. School district spokesperson Terry Corallo told the paper she “disappointed” to see the other students didn’t try to stop the fight. It should be no surprise that the students align with themselves more than they do with teachers. In this case, with White teachers.

White teachers should use strategies that develop trust by promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships. Teachers develop positive relationships with students by engaging them in personal and meaningful dialogue that includes personal and nonacademic issues such as student interest, goals, aspirations, likes and dislike, family, and culture.

Confiscating cellphones from students without establishing positive relationships can only lead to a confrontation such as a teacher student fight.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012

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Racism is a menace and so we’ve been taught for ages which is the primary need for a diversity expert. However, even in this modern society of today where we see a lot of colored celebrities performing on stage with huge fan followings and of course an Afro-America President for the USA, we are still in a phase where racism exists in all its brutal glory and has been eating away at the society like a plague. Classrooms, are one of the most affected areas where color differences and racism exists to its extremes. Even after decades of progress and a lot of communal efforts at bridging the gaps between colored students, white students and teachers, it is sad to say that the disparities still exist and are just as pronounced today as they were back in the 1950s. Colored students, even in the likes of New York City, are attending under resourced schools or have been significantly isolated and made to be unequal in regular schools. Even if the teachers are well-intentioned, perpetuating the structural racism that has taken deep roots into the fabric of our education system is a tough task and make the need for a diversity expert imperative. Teachers need to recognize the biases that exist within the classroom and also take conscious measures to address them and their own biases of course. James Baldwin once said, “it is your very own responsibility to change this society, if you think of yourself as an educated person.” Dr. Derrick L. Campbell took this quote very effectively and straight to the heart and thus this Classroom Racism Exterminator happened. Classroom Racism Exterminator is an initiative that will teach you about your duty and moral obligation towards eliminating racism from the classrooms. This is where and how you will learn about what you need to do to produce a better society that is free of biases and disparities amongst the blacks and the whites. Because we understand how classroom biases and conversations about racism are difficult and how teachers and students almost avoid the topics altogether, we have put together a range of effective methods and products to help address the problem at hand and talk meaningfully to counter issues related to race and racism in the classroom. Diversity expert Dr. Campbell understands that it takes a lot of courage to talk about race and racism and that racial issues need to be viewed through a very critical lens that can understand and attend to the pertaining aspects of racism in the classroom. And therefore through this website we have made a conscious effort to eliminate racism from the classroom and make the educational system equal and beneficial for all. We know and we understand that there are no words that can actually describe how racism feels. There are cases and everybody tends to deal with it in their own manner. Some might lash out verbally or others might just withdraw into shells. Whatever the case, people don’t talk about it openly and teachers don’t really make a conscious effort at addressing the issue. We don’t really know if our children or if the youth is learning to be educated or become racists in their classroom. Our program is focused on helping children of color and regardless of their race, their full potential. We want every student to be able to recognize and reach their full potential so that they think of themselves as responsible citizens of their country and not regard themselves as worthless human beings. Here you will find motivational books and flash card games, all of which have been designed focusing on eliminating racism completely from our classrooms. The books and the games have been consciously designed keeping in mind the American society and educational system. It is a small effort on our and Dr. Campbell’s part to help this society become a better place to live in. A little about diversity expert Dr. Campbell Dr. Derrick L. Campbell the driving force behind Classroom Racism Exterminator is a dynamic figure and a constant source of motivation for us. He has a Bachelors of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology, Math Education, a Masters in Education Administration and also holds a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership. Dr. Campbell is a well known personality throughout the nation. He has lectured at various events including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s Conference and a lot of local churches. He is a personality well dedicated towards eliminating the plague of racism from our classrooms and helping every child recognize his/her true potential not the color of their skin. He realizes how a child would feel if he/she was made to think they are worthless human beings. Diversity expert Dr. Campbell is compassionate and related to the experiences and therefore this initiative is a constant and continual effort to eliminate racism manifested in us, completely from the classroom and from our society.
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2 Responses to Did Paterson School cellphone policy promote teacher student fight?

  1. Ronnie says:

    I’m not sure how you come to your conclusions and how race became a part of this equation. Maybe the student simply didn’t want his phone to be taken. Maybe other classmates were afraid of him. Maybe he had algebra in the 8th grade, which a lot of math curricula calls for. Please help me understand.

    • It is a confrontation between a White man and a Black teenager. The teacher could have and should have used alternative methis in this circumstance. If the teacher did not establish positive relationships with the students he will not have the respect to be able to confiscate anything from the children. In this case, he should have written two discipline referrals. One for the student and one for the student who originally had the cell phone. Another questions is why is a 62 year old White male teacher confronting a Black teenager. Maybe the teacher was feeling his oats that day. Another question. What is a 9th grader doing taking Physics. Evidently he as not mature enough for the class.

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