Smithsburg community up in arms over possible teacher bullying incident

By Ryan Miner 

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According to multiple Smithsburg High School students and parents who spoke to me on a condition of anonymity, a Smithsburg High School teacher with a history of aggressive behavior and a quick temper was recently seen grabbing a high school student’s backpack and proceeded to pull out a clump of said student’s hair.

Parents of Smithsburg High School students have also contacted me with information about the incident, describing the teacher as “unhinged” and demanding strict and immediate consequences from the high school.

It’s important to ascertain all the facts when any situation such as this occurs. Parents and students are outraged, as you can imagine.

Smithsburg High School parents are concerned for the personal safety of their children. No student should ever endure any type of bullying, especially from a teacher! Teachers are supposed to set the example for their students. A zero tolerance policy must be in place.

I sent an email last evening to Washington County Public Schools’ Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox and all seven members of the Washington County Board of Education expressing my concern about the event that was reported to me.

My email is below:

Mr. Chilcutt – 

Multiple parents and students within the Smithsburg community have brought to my attention that a Smithsburg High School teacher was recently involved in a bullying incident that led to a physical altercation with a Smithsburg High Schools student. Typically when I hear rumors from one individual I ignore the rumor; however, several parents, students and members of the Smithsburg community have written to me in private to express their profound concern about said teacher’s personal conduct. 

As I understand personnel issues are exclusively private, it is my intention to approach this situation with deference to the privacy of the teacher (and student) and with increased sensitivity. 

With that, it is my duty, nonetheless, as an investigative blogger to discern fact from fiction and determine how to best approach the information I receive. It is my prerogative to better understand how the alleged said incident occurred and learn the facts surrounding the alleged incident. 

Our public schools must protect our children. Bullying has become a major issue within our public schools – a distraction that often deprives students of receiving the valuable education in which they are unquestionably entitled to receive. My understanding is that Washington County Public Schools implemented a strict policy and a clear set of consequences to address bullying. I believe the same should set of standards should be applied to teachers. 

If students are being placed in danger by any individual employed by Washington County Public Schools, quite frankly, I look to the Board of Education and administrative officials to quickly address the problem and ensure that  a student is free from danger. 

What precautions and policies are in place to address a physical and possibly violent altercation initiated by a teacher that results in a student being harmed? What specific policies address a teacher who is alleged to have physically harmed a student, and what subsequent events will follow to ensure that the appropriate consequences will be applied fairly? 

No student should fear to come to school. And no student should ever fear a teacher – for any reason. 

Mr. Wright: 

This email serves as a MPIA request. I respectfully request all board policy that addresses the proper steps taken when a teacher is subjected to disciplinary measures due conduct unbecoming of a teacher, including bullying a student or any physical harm perpetrated against a student. I also request any public documents within the last 90 days, if accessible to the public (considering the sensitivity of personnel) that directly relates to a Smithsburg High School teacher who may have received disciplinary action by WCPS in accordance with Board policy. 

Thank you, 

Ryan R. Miner 

I don’t always agree with WC Parents founder Dottie Gruhler but credit should be given where it is due. Mrs. Gruhler is a tremendous advocate for combatting bullying that occurs in our public schools. Gruhler’s WC Parents Facebook page often discusses issues related to bullying and how to stop it. I personally witnessed many meaningful Facebook threads addressing the issue of bullying on Mrs. Gruhler’s WC Parents.

I vividly remember a Facebook post from last year that Dottie Gruhler shared on WC Parents in which a Boonsboro Middle School mother posted a picture of her daughter who was being bullied; a serious and honest discussion occurred under said Facebook thread.

Despite my policy disagreements with Mrs. Gruhler, she is well known in the Smithsburg community and would be an important voice in addressing this incident. Moreover, her public Facebook page could serve as a platform for parents to discuss how to halt bullying in Washington County Public Schools.

I will be following this incident carefully and with sensitivity to all parties involved. I will post more information about the incident after my MPIA request is returned completed.

If Smithsburg High School parents or students have further information about the incident I listed above, please feel free to contact me at (301) 991-4220 or email at RyanRMiner@gmail.com. We can speak off-the-record and on the condition of anonymity. I always protect my sources, and more importantly, I will work tirelessly with parents to protect students from teacher bullying.

Our children cannot learn in an atmosphere where they feel unsafe. And our children should never be made to fear their teachers. Period.

*** UPDATE ***

Listen to an audio update.

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About Ryan
Ryan Miner is Editor in Chief, Founder and Publisher of AMinerDetail.com. Miner is the sole reporter and columnist at AMinerDetail.com, covering Maryland news, politics, business, education, national, state and local government. Miner is the host of A Miner Detail Podcast.

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49 Comments on "Smithsburg community up in arms over possible teacher bullying incident"

  1. Ok…. So was just wondering what happened before the Teacher “bullied” the student? I agree that student should come to school feeling safe but also would like to state the schools arent exactly safe for teachers either. Teachers dont get paid enough to teach today…. or havent you watched some of the videos of students attacking teachers? Just make sure all facts are known before you make any assumptuons… as a wise Smithsburg English teacher once told me… never assume… it makes an ass out of u and me 😉

  2. You have no idea what you’re talking about… The student started a fight and was trying to run out of the room when he grabbed her book bag and then accidentally her hair. No one is scared at all and everyone forgot about it.. My friends have him as a teacher and love him. Please don’t ruin someone’s reputation just so you can get views on your website.

    • Avatar Smithsburg High School Student | March 3, 2016 at 12:26 pm |

      I agree completely, and also know students who have him as a teacher and have never reported “violent tendencies” or anything negative about him at all.

    • Avatar Recent Smithsburg Graduate | March 3, 2016 at 2:48 pm |

      Regardless of what the student did to result in this incident. A teacher should never put hands onto a student. If she was trying to “run out” of the room as it was stated in the above comment, the teacher should have left her go and reported it to an administrator or to the police officer who is located in Smithsburg High school. Also, as a former student of this teacher. I would like to state that I did see an anger streak in this teacher and in one instance specifically that I can recall from a class of his that I was in. And also I have seen that he puts students down a lot. To reply to the part where it was stated that everyone forgot about it. No, that is not true. The girl who had her hair yanked I am sure has not forgotten it nor have her parents. Just because someone is not the textbook definition of a perfect student does not mean that they do not have the same right as the rest when something wrong has been done to them. The teacher acted on impulse and did not follow correct protocol. As a recent graduate from this school, I feel that I have some sort of understanding of the proper way that these situations should be handled and this one was not handled properly.

      • Avatar Anonymous Smithsburg Student | March 3, 2016 at 5:28 pm |

        I also personally know this teacher and the types of classes he teaches. He usually gets the worst of the worst. I can see why his temper would be thin. I’m not sure what experiences you have had with him, but the friends I know love him and think he is a great teacher.

    • That’s false. There was no fight. That was my daughter and it was on camera

    • Thank you for describing your view of the incident. Please feel free to contact me directly at (301) 991-4220 or at RyanRMiner@gmail.com.

  3. Ps – how about writing about how all the redneck kids bully the Muslim students? It’s a big problem.

    • Ps get your facts straight Because I am a “redneck” and have yet to hear about or see any other “redneck” bully a muslim. If you want to get technical though, by all means we can.

    • Likewise I have never witnessed any issues between any so called “rednecks” and anyone of the Islamic faith. Maybe you’re thinking about the kids who claim to be rednecks but couldn’t hook up a 3-point hitch. The kids from whispering hills aren’t country… Please don’t lump all of the hard working country folks in with this group under this title.

    • No bullying is acceptable. I welcome a discussion and will offer my website as a forum to combat bullying at any level.

      Thank you for commenting.

  4. Avatar Tim Stevenson | March 3, 2016 at 8:36 am |

    With the way these students are today so disrespectful dressed like thugs,mouths that don’t know when to zip it, and parents that back their child no matter how wrong the child is..cell phone in school so they can get in more trouble.If a parent needs to contact a child call the school and leave a message.

    • Avatar Smithsburg High School Student | March 3, 2016 at 12:21 pm |

      Really not sure what this comment has to do with the situation at all. Seems like you’re just ranting your own supposed frustrations with today’s youth. Which, from my youthful standpoint, is quite insulting and a slanderous stereotype.

  5. I’m curious to know ALL the circumstances surrounding the alleged incident. Twenty-three years ago when I was in school there was a group of boys who were relentless with actually bullying a teacher. All they ever got from administration was a slap on the wrist and a firm talking to. They made our class and that teacher’s life a living hell. One day while the ring leader of the bunch was headed out the door to the principal’s office again he turned around to her, made a derogatory comment directly at her and she snapped. She struck him and physically threw him out into the hall. I’m not saying by any means that what she did was right, but even back then some of the kids were so disgustingly disrespectful that it drove a wonderful teacher (in my opinion) to her breaking point, and everyone has one including teachers. The one and only time my child has gotten in trouble at school…so far my question for him was “what did you do?” Not once did it ever cross my mind that his teacher was unjustified.

  6. Avatar Anonymous Smithsburg Student | March 3, 2016 at 10:32 am |

    Before you report an incident at our school, MY school, make sure you get your facts straight. I have talked to people in that class, who told that the student was being disrespectful and tried to leave the class without permission. In an effort to bring him/her back, he pulled his/her bookbag, accidentally grabbing his/her hair. Please before you post a slanderous article, get both sides of the story.

  7. Avatar Wayne Smith | March 3, 2016 at 11:07 am |

    I would certainly never condone physical assault against a student but I would also never, via public forum, raise such a potentially damning issue. There are proper channels and procedures in place by which someone/anyone can register their concerns/complaints. But then of course the World would not have the benefit of bearing witness to the bloggers mastery of the English language, which obviously is exceptional. Also, if this situation would have been handled properly the B of E would not have a MPIA to deal with and provide to someone who has no authority to challenge their policy to begin with.

    • Avatar Linda Kline | March 3, 2016 at 3:30 pm |

      Well stated Mr. Smith! I have seen this posted all over facebook today, so decided to read this blog and the comments. I am actually very surprised to see this plastered all over facebook by current students, alumni, etc….this needs to go before BoE, not be aired out in a public forum like this. If a blogger were to do this to anyone at my alma mater (Smithsburg’s Rival of Middletown) I would be appalled and disgusted by something of this nature out on the internet like this. Just SMH because simplex protocol on how to get to the bottom of issues like this aren’t being followed.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

  8. Avatar Smithsburg High School Student | March 3, 2016 at 12:19 pm |

    Okay so you say that it’s important to get the facts straight, but then literally your entire blog post is based around word of mouth tumors you’ve heard from parents and students? May I point out that parents would be getting their information from said students, who are getting THEIR information from still other students. Your blog post is just a “heard it through the grapevine” exploitation. Lastly, the behaviors of one teacher should not be representative of the school as a whole, yet your blog post casts a very negative light in Smithsburg High School as a whole. Please take your own advice and ascertain all the facts before making a potentially harmful accusation based on rumors. It seems to me that you, Mr. Miner, are being a bully in this situation.

  9. Avatar Parent of Smithsburg student | March 3, 2016 at 2:50 pm |

    This is ridiculous that you would write an article to damage someone’s reputation this way! This is one of the best teachers my student has ever had. The student was being a disrespectful punk and should be punished not only by the school but the parents! The problem is parents always blame the teacher and bail their kid out without letting them experience life’s consequences. Teach your child respect and there will never be an issue!

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

    • Avatar Recent Smithsburg Graduate | March 3, 2016 at 6:57 pm |

      I am curious to know how you would feel if the roles were reversed. And if your child was grabbed by a teacher whether or not they were being a “punk”. Would you want a teacher to grab your child. I reiterate, why does it matter what the child was doing? The proper protocol was not followed. Teacher should not touch the kids. An administrator should have been called or the police officer on site. There was no reason for this to happen.

      • Avatar Parent of Smithsburg student | March 3, 2016 at 10:59 pm |

        If roles were reversed and he grabbed my daughters book bag to make her go sit back in her seat because she is being a little “punk” I have no problem with that. This is why kids walk all over teachers and are disrespectful to elders because they know they can go and whine and everyone will make a big deal out of it and run to the rescue. Like I said, teach them respect and these kinds of things wouldn’t happen and don’t baby them over stupid things.

        • Well said, kids these days get away with everything and their parents back them 100%. Wether they are wrong or right, parents need to set boundaries and teach kids respect! I’m only 35 yrs old and when I was in school it was unheard of for kids to bully teachers/admin/peers bc they had respect. Of course not everyone liked each other but we also didn’t stand for bullying!

        • it does not matter under any circumstances if the student is being derogatory. It is not acceptable at all that this teacher put their hands on the student. Completely uncalled. For and if you had any common sense for today’s standards you would be in acquiescence.

  10. Avatar My business | March 3, 2016 at 3:18 pm |

    This isn’t the first time he has grabbed a student. He needs fired

  11. If only teachers were still allowed to hit kids. Things would be easier.

  12. Avatar Former students Mom | March 3, 2016 at 7:26 pm |

    This is a joke, just as this Ryan is. My son had Mr. Lane and is an awesome human being. He took extra time with him even tho my son wasn’t the perfect student. I do not believe this at all. I think a lot more investigation needs to be done, then you will see and you all will owe huge apology and feel like a fool.

    • Avatar Western Maryland Represent | March 3, 2016 at 8:09 pm |

      Hey asshole, why don’t you take down the post with he teachers same, can we say libel?

    • Avatar Connor Gilchrist | March 7, 2016 at 1:34 pm |

      No, I’m glad you said his name, because now I can put a face on the action. I can speak for Mr. Lane’s integrity as a former student of his. He’s a truly considerate and patient educator, and he’s never once raised a hand, let alone his voice, to a student. I know the student body of Smithsburg High School quite well, and I can assure you that the odds of this particular student deserving the elicited response is quite high. Students these days are beginning to expose an emboldened rebellious streak, and even if he had done what he was reported to have done, I can’t blame him in the slightest. This isn’t “bullying”, Miner, this is a response to the action of a student. Bullying is the unwarranted and unprovoked harassment of another, and people would be wise to stop throwing that word around as casually as they do these days. Also, it’s your duty as an “investigative blogger”? That title, let alone the implied description of that job, is a laughable concept. You hold no weight in the world of journalism; you run a personal blog. Don’t inflate what you do here just to match your ego. Save the “Thank you for your thoughtful comment.” response, too. It makes you look like a horse’s ass and an instigator.

  13. Avatar Western Maryland Represent | March 3, 2016 at 8:11 pm |

    Ever heard of the word libel?

  14. Avatar Former student | March 3, 2016 at 8:28 pm |

    I had him as a teacher my sophomore and senior years. He was chill as fuck. He helped me a lot tbh and was willing to stay after most anyday to help. I’ve heard all of it tbh and I know another student whom had his bag grabbed as well and he didn’t report it as he didn’t care. The students really see no intimidation they aren’t scared of the old stoner hippie not sure why anyone would be. Just leave my man lane train alone ??

  15. Avatar Parent of Smithsburg student | March 3, 2016 at 10:26 pm |

    This is not in your place as a “Blogger” to plaster this all over the place! Your a complete trouble maker!

  16. I am sorry but some of the statements here are the reason our young people today can’t keep jobs and why we struggle to keep the good teachers. As a percent of two in high school and a smithsburg class of 92 member there are times when a teacher absolutely needs to stop another student in fights it is called safety and learning. When they are adults the cops are not going to let them fight it out why should the people in charge that are preparing them for that. Bullying is different then rule inforcement.

  17. Avatar Smithsburg High School Junior | March 4, 2016 at 10:38 am |

    Yeah she just tried to walk out of the room and the teacher tried to grab her bookbag and he accidentally grabbed her hair instead. Mr. Lane wouldn’t pull a students hair on purpose.

  18. Avatar Smithsburg Grad | March 4, 2016 at 11:57 am |

    Once there was a fight and one kid was just repeatedly punching the other kid in the back of the head. The kid getting attacked wouldn’t fight back because he knew he would get in trouble. The teacher in question was the only one who did anything to stop it. He ran across the courtyard and put the attacker in a headlock and probably rescued the other guy from suffering a concussion. Everyone else just watched. This teacher is not aggressive, but in fact, compassionate and caring towards his students. He stuck up for that kid when nobody else would. This was about 4 years ago.

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