A high school teacher was suspended for five days without pay for photographing a female student without permission, commenting on her gym clothes and giving her a failing grade when she finally dropped his class.
Martin Appelbaum, a family and consumer science teacher at Humboldt High School in St. Paul, Minn., told the Pioneer Press, “I am deeply sorry that my comments and subsequent actions made a student feel uncomfortable. I have spent a lot of time reflecting on this situation and understand my choice of words and actions can have an unintended yet profound impact on students. I have accepted the consequences that the district felt were appropriate.”
Appelbaum reportedly “continuously made inappropriate comments” toward the teen, saying “cute gym clothes” and even taking her photo with his cellphone.
According to the Pioneer Press, the teacher, who has worked in the St. Paul Public Schools district since 1995, told the student her photo was to be published on the website Schoology, a platform for parents and families, but that never happened. Appelbaum additionally said that he frequently takes photos of his students to “document” classroom activities.
The Pioneer Press reported that after the photo, the student dropped his class and Appelbaum changed her grade from an A to a failing one. He explained the change by saying “something goofy” happened with the Schoology platform.
In a November letter, assistant superintendent Theresa Battle said Appelbaum’s behavior was harassment and retaliatory, according to the Pioneer Press.
Applebaum appears to have completed his unpaid suspension. When reached by phone, Appelbaum told Yahoo Lifestyle that he was in the middle of teaching a class and could not speak. He also declined a phone interview. Battle did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment.
The Pioneer Press reports that Appelbaum received a one-day suspension in 2008 for showing two of his classes a “graphic” anti-circumcision video. He reportedly said his students were curious to see it.
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