Tenured First Grade Teacher Explains ‘Future Criminals’ Description At Hearing

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A New Jersey first grade teacher who wrote that she was a “warden for future criminals” on Facebook says she was speaking “out of frustration to their behavior.”

Jennifer O’Brien defended herself Wednesday at an administrative hearing that will determine whether the tenured Paterson teacher should lose her job.

O’Brien told an administrative law judge she wrote the post in exasperation because six or seven unruly first-graders kept disrupting her lessons. She said one boy had recently hit her.

The teacher posted her remark to 333 friends on March 28. However, it was forwarded and led critics to call her comment racist.

O’Brien’s lawyer, Nancy Oxfeld, tells The Record newspaper the post was a mistake but not racist.

A decision on whether O’Brien will keep her job is expected in November.

Is the administrative hearing an overreaction? Sound off in our comments section below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • njnative

    Oh yeah. So are terms such as “bad neighborhood”..”illegal immigrant”
    “home schooling”

  • Jan

    can we just start referring to the “Little Preciouses” as Future Democrats?? I think that was simplify things greatly

  • The Facts

    The teacher’s speech is protected by the U.S. Constitution. The content of her speech may turn out to be all too true. The school administrators are a bunch of wimps for suspending her. This is nothing more than political correctness gone wild.

  • Cillasi

    Most of us can understand her frustration even if we’re not teachers. Teachers do not have the ability to control kids anymore. Even taking a kid by the arm can lose you your job. The kids know this. Their parents come to school and “loud” the teacher in front of his/her class if it by any chance does happen, and the teacher can consider herself lucky if that’s all that happens. It’s a sad situation.

    More importantly, WE ALL HAVE TO LEARN THAT NOTHING WE POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA IS PRIVATE and what you do post can get you in trouble. I know the vast majority of my “friends” on facebook are not friends. They are people I’ve added to friends to play games that need friends. Even some you consider friends because you know them socially doesn’t mean they are really your friends or that they wouldn’t turn you in! Keep your personal business as well as your business rants off social media!

  • kiki



    • Nec

      It’s the new “N” word.

  • Pplrfunny

    OK, I have two MAJOR problems with this. One, she vented on her own FACEBOOK, I believe there was an article on here today that two teenage girls posted inappropriate pictures on their facebook, got suspended and now thats being called “unconstitution” because of freedom of speech. So, how is it OK for two teenage girls to pose like porn stars on their FB, but a teacher can’t vent? I’m sorry, but I don’t see any difference. She didn’t threaten these children… Two, how was her comment racist? She is quoted as saying she is a “warden for future criminals,” I’m sorry, but did I miss the day that “criminal” became a race?

  • PaulaNYCUS

    When children are reared in single-parent, mother-headed households, they are more aggressive and less well behaved. Why can’t we simply acknowledge that fact? And why can’t we acknowledge that a disproportionate percentage of black sperm donors (they’re not “fathers”) have essentially abdicated the consequences of their sexual pathollogy? Why do we make all these efforts to tell children not to smoke or take drugs because they’re dangerous and unealthy by telling them to abstain completely, but for premarital teen sex, we simply say, “have ‘safe’ sex”? If we did that for drugs and tobacco, we’d be telling kids you can do heroin, provided you use clean needles and only smoke “light” cigarettes.

    They want to fire this woman because our “leaders” don’t have the guts to address the issues that are actually at hand.

  • Surfin BIrd

    She had the right to speak her mind. Also why didn’t the school take action against the student who hit her.

    • Nec

      True she does have the right and I guess the truth hurts some people. I wonder what is the ethnicity of the people who called her comment racist.

  • Jan

    Teach got it right…simply a babysitter waiting for the cretins to be old enough to be either “pushed along” towards graduation, drop-out, procreate or all of the above.

  • Amused

    This happens in other countries as well.
    Libya, Iran, North Korea….
    Why should a woman be allowed freedom of speech?
    Wake up America and stop drinking the cool-aid!

  • http://scir91.wordpress.com scir91onYouTube

    if you don’t like who you work with, or your job, quit. simple as that.

    • alanjay1

      Most people who teach in places like Newark don’t do it because they “like” the job. They do it because it’s an important and insanely frustrating job and somebody has to step up to the plate to do it. Clearly, her frustration got the better of her, and that’s unfortunate. Hopefully the district will recognize that the thousands of hours she’s poured into the job outweigh this one lapse of judgment.

  • Bullethole

    If one of my children had been disrespectful to a teacher I would have given them a good licking at home. We need school for unruly children that don’t want to learn so the rest can have peace around them to study.

  • njnative

    SHe is spot on. These kids are beyond repair. Year after year, the behavior of kids deteriorates. Parents are to blame. They’d rather be their kid’s friend than their parent. Also, many bad seed kids are raised in one parent homes or with guardians.
    Bottom line here is social media is for fun. never post anything serious.

    • alanjay1

      What do you know? Every year, despite the failings of education in the inner city, thousands of children who grow up there go on to be productive citizens. To write an entire classroom of kids off as future criminals is a horrible thing. I’m sure that’s not what Ms. O’Brien really believes, because if she did, she wouldn’t even bother showing up. But it does seem like it’s what YOU believe.

  • sk

    i don’t know what the big deal is about her comment! there are people who want her job and they are trying to find an excuse to fire her! yes! I agree people are angry becuase the truth hurts!

  • truthhurts

    It’s better then calling them lil’ b a s t a r d s which most of these future criminals literally are.

  • Bud

    The teacher speaks the truth.

  • JustSaying

    She may have shown poor discretion in her posting but she wasn’t entirely wrong either. In addition to the Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, etc. each class likely also contains one or more future drug abusers, burglars, alcoholics, prostitutes etc. Parents may not want to hear that but the law of probabilities says differently.

  • Scottyb

    Some teachers are obviously not very bright…

  • snowdog

    Social Media can overthrow a dictator and cause major changes in the world. So of course an outburst on Facebook can make you loose your job. The problem is, people are so over sensitive that you are not allowed you speak freely without having to worry about repercussions. Without realizing it, we are slowly loosing a certain freedom with our speech in where we need to be politically correct with everything that we say.

    Gee, I wonder if I can loose my job just by writing what I did? Was anyone offended? Did I show any disrespect to the USA because I questioned my freedom to speak freely? I guess I’ll have to find out over thew rest of my life if this is going to be held against me one day. Wow what a bummer. Looks like I put my life and career on the line just to type this. I hope you appreciate it.

    • mym

      I do appreciate and thank you. Hopefully, you won’t LOSE your job and hopefully despite your predictions, we won’t all LOSE our right to free speech but you were a bit LOOSE with your spelling so THAT could get you in trouble.

  • Rayclark Palmer

    Makes me wonder what type of “friends” she has that one would forward a personal posting. In this day and age it is wise to remember never post anything (at leaaste not under your real name) that you would not want you mother, father, spouse, or employer to learn about. Freedom of speech only goes so far.

  • Another Teacher

    The truth hurts and people are afraid to hear it.

  • Rayclark Palmer

    Makes me wonder what types of “friends” she has that one would forward a personal posting. In this day and age one should never post (at lest under their real names) anything that they would not want their parents, spouse or employer to read.

  • Journalism 101

    CBS: show us the full quote and we’ll let u know if it is an overreaction. Impossible to tell from what you show in your article.

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