Veteran teacher fired for defending bullied student

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Pam Aister worked as a teacher in the Fountain Hills Unified School District for 25 years. This week, she lost her job for defending one of her students who was being bullied.

Student Malachi Gillis, 9, says he was bullied regularly ever since beginning classes in March at Four Peaks Elementary School in Fountain Hills, Arizona.  His mother, Jennifer Gillis, says much of the harassment her son endured was racist in nature, including being called the n-word, monkey and crackhead.

Even though son and mother reported the bullying incidents to school officials, they felt that the students involved were disciplined too lightly. The bullying continued and escalated.

After Malachi was allegedly surrounded by rock-throwing bullies on the playground, Aister intervened. According to an official report, the teacher told the students to shut up when they tried to explain themselves. Aister is also accused of telling one of the students that he should “watch his back” and mocking one of the students about his “ugly face.”

In the school district’s report on the incident, Malachi is listed as the instigator on the day in question. The parents of the alleged bullies complained about Aister’s conduct toward their children. The district found the teacher’s conduct to be threatening toward the students and because Aister also failed to take responsibility for her actions, the district report recommended dismissal.

For her part, Aister says she is “terribly disappointed.”

A petition on to reinstate the teacher has garnered over 9,800 signatures.