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A lesson in semantics from Summerville Montessori School



***UPDATE, 5/2/13***: A trial date has been set for Lystra Zerba.

***UPDATE, 2:50 pm***: Live 5 News has an update to this story. They are reporting:

The Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office charged School Director Elizabeth Cain with failing to report alleged abuse at the school. Lystra Zerba, a teacher at the school, is facing two counts of cruelty to children.

Read the full report here.

Original Piece Below

Multiple news outlets* have been reporting that a teacher at the Summerville Montessori School of the Arts has been accused of child abuse. The teacher allegedly put duck tape on a 4-year-old’s mouth, placed students in a dark bathroom and forced them to sit on the floor and also force-fed a child.

These accusations came from a teacher’s aid at the school who says she witnessed everything described above. Her reward for speaking out? She is no longer employed at the school.

This morning the teacher’s assistant told Harve Jacobs of Live 5 News that she had been fired from the school. However, later in the day, the school ‘s lawyer told the news station that the teacher’s assistant was “let go,” not fired. The lawyer said she was let go, because “parents began pulling their kids out of the teacher’s class.”

So, the school didn’t fire her, she was let go. That seems rather confusing. What’s the difference you may be asking?

It seems like it’s the classic – you say “tomato,” I say “Thanks for getting our school a bunch of negative press! Thankfully, we found a ridiculous excuse to fire you over, – oops, I mean ‘let you go over’ –  so you can’t turn around and sue us for retaliatory or wrongful termination. And, if you think about it, we’re really doing you a favor here! Now you can tell future employers you were basically laid off and not fired. Really, you should be thanking us.”

You see, it’s just semantics.




*I have to acknowledge one of my readers who asked me if I had heard anything about the police presence at the school. I had no idea, so I asked some folks from the local news outlets if they knew what was going on. None of them did, but they appreciated the head’s up and started to look into it. The next day, all the outlets I had asked had stories about this topic. Good work by my reader for asking about it!

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