A Florida middle school teacher claims that she did not approach one of her students with a ruler, in an attempt to measure her cleavage, calling it "boobage." But Joan Bannister nonetheless resigned, before her scheduled hearing Monday on the incident, reports the Orlando Sentinel. It sounds like another one of those bizarre scandals that seems to, more often than not, involve a teacher.
The 53-year-old math teacher at Eustis Middle School allegedly told one of her students that she wasn't complying with the dress code in front of the whole class, and she could prove it by measuring her exposed cleavage, according to the girl's complaint. Bannister supposedly came toward her with a ruler, and referred to her cleavage as "boobage."
The teacher denies using the word "boobage."
She did say, however, that she discussed the girl's noncompliance with the dress code. She also admitted in a school district memo that she "could have handled the situation better."
Florida's educator code of ethics prohibits teachers from intentionally embarrassing or disparaging students.
After the girl filed her complaint Jan. 30, the district recommended a five-day suspension without pay. Before deciding to resign, Bannister had requested a hearing, and so the suspension was delayed.
Dress codes are often a point of discomfort between teachers and students. A school district in Missouri recently tightened its policies, precisely because it was awkward for male teachers to point out violations.
As the Wall Street Journal reports, high schools across the country are on a preemptive campaign to avoid tearful scenes on prom night, when provocatively-clad girls are turned away from from the party. One school in Oklahoma City is giving a slideshow of the "Do"s and "Don't"s, and another school in northwest Georgia is plastering its hallways with posters of "acceptable styles."
Rulers are still used at many schools to make sure the hems of students' skirts don't hover too far from the knee. But as this case shows, rulers probably shouldn't be whipped out when it's cleavage that's in question.