Attorney Ryan L. Beasley is representing Lisa Houston, the Upstate teacher who lost her job following the viral video of a mischaracterized classroom episode.
The sensationalized case has made national headlines, casting both his client and the school district in an unfavorable light. The situation could have been defused and handled differently, Beasley says.
See Ryan Beasley‘s interview on FOX Carolina.
Shocking video of teacher abuse? Well, no.
Without sound and out of context, it might look bad – white teacher mocking and manhandling a black student. What’s missing is the audio, the before and the after: the teacher’s playful tone, the classmates’ laughter, and the teacher giving the student smiles and a hug when he eventually wakes up.
The student has said he was not offended or mad. His parents were not demanding sanctions. And yet, the popular teacher was forced to resign in disgrace, despite an exemplary 27-year record in the district, and with no due process.
What did the teacher do?
A student was asleep in Lisa Houston’s math class at Palmetto High School in Williamston. So zonked out that she couldn’t rouse him. In the video, she is standing on his desk, bending over him. She pats his cheeks to revive him. She tilts his head up. She tugs on his hair. She nudges him with her foot. All in good-natured fun. At least to those in the room.
Someone inevitably took out a cellphone, recorded a video and posted it (without sound) to social media. The video clip went viral, then was replayed by South Carolina news stations.
A 27-year career abruptly cut short
In reaction to the viral video and news coverage, the administrators and school board felt compelled to take swift action. The superintendent of Anderson District One said Houston voluntarily stepped down, taking early retirement effective immediately.
Houston’s legal counsel, Greenville attorney Ryan L. Beasley, characterized it as a forced resignation; the alternative was to risk being fired and losing her pension and benefits.
The community rallies behind her
Now the school district is being second-guessed and much of the community is rallying behind Houston.
- The vice chair of the school board, a former principal who originally hired Houston, resigned over the matter.
- Students launched a social media backlash against the district, under such hashtags as #IfYouFireHoustonWeHaveAProblem and #IfTheyFireHoustonWeHaveAProblem.
- A peaceful protest march was planned after school on Thursday to show support and hopefully get the veteran teacher reinstated. Current and former students, as well as teachers and other supporters in the community, were expected to join the march ending at the district offices.
“Lisa Houston is one of the top teachers in that district and in the state and her record proves it,” Beasley told FOX Carolina. “And it’s a sad situation that the people she’s worked her whole life to help and support have, in my opinion, turned their back on her.”
Ryan Beasley said the situation is evolving, and much more information will be revealed over the next few days.