South Windsor Teacher Facing Termination Over Sexual Poem - NBC Connecticut

South Windsor Teacher Facing Termination Over Sexual Poem

Teacher Facing Termination Over Poem

(Published Tuesday, May 19, 2015)

South Windsor's superintendent of schools has begun the process of terminating an English teacher at the high school after complaints he directed students in February to read and discuss an Allen Ginsberg poem that containing sexually explicit content.

The superintendent's office sent a letter to teacher David Olio on Friday notifying him that his termination is under consideration. 

The superintendent's initiation of termination proceedings stems from a class on Feb. 25 in which Olio asked students if they had a poem to share, according to the letter.

One student showed him his copy of "Please Master," by Ginsberg, which contains explicit descriptions of sexual acts, vulgar language and expletives. Despite the student's objections, Olio "insisted" on sharing it with the rest of the class after reading through it, according to  South Windsor Superintendent Kate Carter.

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Olio shut  the door and told his third period AP English class, "I'm not going to say what happens in AP English stays in AP English, but..."  before turning off the lights to project the poem on the white board, Carter said in the letter.

Olio then used his school computer to show them a YouTube video restricted to adults of the author reading the poem, according to Carter's letter based on interviews with students who reported being uncomfortable.

Olio didn't warn students of the explicit content in the poem and showed them the content despite knowing most of his students were under 18, she said. Olio also led students in a discussion about the poem, according to Carter.

"Based on the facts, as described below, I must initiate proceedings to terminate your employment with the South Windsor Board of Education. Accordingly, as required by statute, I hereby notify you that termination of your contract of employment as a teacher with the South Windsor Public Schools is under consideration," Carter wrote to Olio on Friday.

She wrote that state-required proceedings will be followed to finalize the termination.

Carter wrote that the termination proceedings are due to "egregiously poor professional judgment" when Olio shared the poem with his class, which isn't in the South Windsor curriculum and wasn't part of his lesson plan that day.

"By so doing, you violated the trust placed by the Board of Education in you as a teacher, you brought discredit upon the South Windsor Public Schools, you undermined public confidence and parent trust in you as a teacher, and you put the emotional health of some students at risk," Carter wrote in her letter.

In the meantime, Olio is under suspension and the central office said he is not allowed to contact students or enter school property during his suspension. While the South Windsor Board of Education is investigating, police said they are not taking part. Olio is not facing any charges.

Allen Ginsberg, an icon of the 50s and 60s known for his sexually explicit writings, is described by the Poetry Foundation as one of the most acclaimed poets of his generation.

In a previous email to parents, Carter said both students and parents expressed concern on social media following the assignment. Carter said parents were notified immediately.

According to his website, Olio graduated from Trinity College and has taught English at South Windsor High School since 1996.

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