A Brookline, Massachusetts, middle school teacher has been suspended from his job—and might get fired—because he was overheard uttering the word, "bullshit." Frankly, that is bullshit.
Larry Chen teaches seventh grade at Michael Driscoll School. He's apparently very well-liked by his students: many staged an elaborate rally on his behalf. According to WBZ-TV:
"As soon as I heard I was in tears. It was so devastating to find out that such a beloved teacher could have been taken away from us in that way," says student Maya Sekhar.
An unconventional teacher, Chen has been out of the classroom for a couple of weeks. He was overheard using the longer version of the phrase "BS" in an after-hours conversation with high school students. If there's more to it nobody is saying because of confidentiality.
I called the school to ask for comment, and emailed the principal and vice principal. I also emailed Chen. No one responded immediately; I'll update this story if I hear back.
It's possible Chen did something else wrong—something very serious—and deserves to be fired. But he certainly shouldn't be let go for using very mildly inappropriate language on a single occasion.
Chen's case calls to mind Louisiana State University Professor Teresa Buchanan, who was fired a few months ago for infrequently using coarse language and telling sexual jokes to her students. There was an update to this story today: LSU's faculty voted to censure the administrators who fired Buchanan, the university president among them. They content that LSU trampled Buchanan's rights and had no reason to fire her.
Chen also seems to be getting some moral support—his union's president told local reporters that teachers should be allowed "to bring their very special and rich talents" into the classroom. I say good luck to Chen. His situation certainly seems like bullshit to me.