Numerous postings on Facebook—where a page “Support Mr. Joseph,” has cropped up—say Joseph is being “forced out.”
Joseph, in his own Facebook posting, doesn’t use those words, but does write of circumstances that made it difficult to stay.
Joseph said he was told he was to be transferred to another part of Weber the year before his planned retirement and went to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kathleen Mooney to let her know he wanted to stay where he was next year.
“I wanted to end my career (after next year) in my room with my fellow teachers and students,” wrote Joseph, who teaches English.
Instead, back at Weber, Joseph said he was “confronted” by an administrator with “ridiculous infractions such as complimenting an Asian student and allowing a student to place his hand on my shoulder.”
Other situations “were also manipulated and used against me in order to satisfy their accusations,” Joseph wrote.
The accusations are not specified and Joseph, when reached by phone, declined to elaborate. He did say he was: “deeply indebted to the parents and students who have spoken on my behalf and will be forever grateful,” referring to the Facebook postings that, since last week, have registered over 1,000 “likes.”
But amid the overwhelmingly positive postings was an insinuation that all was not well in Joseph’s classroom. James Jablonsky defended Joseph in a post: “It wouldn’t surprise me that the alleged ‘victims’ abuse was nothing more than being told to fly straight. Not the first time I’ve seen false accusations fly when some kid got bent out of shape because they didn’t get their way.”
Added Joseph in his Facebook post: “I guess that as teachers we are allowed to teach our students to ‘question authority’ and ‘seek the truth.’ But we are not allowed to live by those very same rules.”
Joseph said he hoped “that I have always and in all ways lived up to your expectations. It truly has been a joy to be a part of Port Washington. Thank you for your kind words of concern.”
Mooney would not comment. Instead, she referred questions to the district’s public relations firm, which issued the following statement on her behalf:
“Mr. Joseph has had a long, distinguished career in the Port Washington School District and has accepted a voluntary retirement notification incentive offered by the district. We thank him for his years of service and wish him well. As this is a matter of personnel, the district will have no further comment.”
The Facebook page has scores of comments, with students, former students and parents thanking him for making a positive difference in their lives.
Its introduction, believed to be by a parent, read: “The way that Mr. Joseph is being treated is an absolute disgrace, and the Port Washington school administrators should be ashamed. While the specifics are being kept private for ‘confidentiality’ reasons, the one thing that is clear is that Mr. Joseph is ending his career on a very sad and sour note.”
Abby Harari posted: “Mr. Joseph is by far the most amazing teacher I have ever had in all my years of school. He is the sole reason I am able to write and has most definitely impacted my life for the better.”
“He is the best,” Victoria Domina Gordon posted. “And all the kids respected him. Even if ‘printing’ was not accepted; it had to be script. Thank you Mr Joseph!”
Joseph “was so dedicated, and whether it was coming in early, working through lunch, or after school, he made sure every single student was successful and truly understood everything. Mr. Joseph has made so many students the way we are today, and I cannot thank him enough,” Jen Rome posted.
“Mr. Joseph you have had such an amazing impact on my daughter Juliet Pia when she needed it most,” wrote Leslie Alonge-Pia.
Julia Van Loon sought some answers, in addition to her kudos. “Isn’t transparency in order? My son, too, had him and the impact this man had on his young life was extraordinary. To this day he credits Mr. Joseph for having given him life skills that keep him strong and focused,” Van Loon wrote.