DUNDEE — Nicknaming a female student “Yummy,” rubbing another female student’s shoulders during class and giving students he liked preferential treatment are just some of the allegations made against the Dundee High School teacher the district is fighting to fire.

The district filed paperwork in Yates County Court in June seeking to change the punishment for Douglas Coleman from a six-month suspension without pay to dismissal.

Coleman is a tenured social studies teacher who has been with the district since 1983.

Included in the paperwork are details on the allegations of “conduct unbecoming a teacher and insubordination” from the 2006-07 and 2007-08 school years that led the district to hold disciplinary hearings throughout last year.

The district says Coleman threatened to kill a ninth-grader in 2007 for talking and not standing during the Pledge of Allegiance.

“He didn’t rise. He made me mad as hell,” Coleman said during testimony at one of his hearings. “I got really pissed off about that, because I talked to him before, and I yelled at him and told him to get out and then I said something, in substance or words, to, you know, if you do that again, I’ll have to kill you, or something like that … He made me really angry.”

Giving students inappropriate nicknames was a recurring theme throughout his latest disciplinary hearing and going back as far as 1993, according to court documents.

According to hearing testimony included in the filing, the student Coleman allegedly referred to as “Yummy” said she thought the nickname was “perverted and weird.”

Coleman claimed the nickname wasn’t sexual in nature but meant to indicate she had a “hunger for knowledge.” Other nicknames he allegedly used from 2006 to 2008 included “Speedy” and “Zebby.”

Additional nicknames Coleman has been cited as using as far back as 1996 include “Troll,” “Mother,” “Grunt,” “Dr. Death,” “Weasel,” “Half One,” “Sissy,” “Haze” and “Genius.”

He also allegedly called one overweight student “Shamu.”

According to the court documents, the student he referred to as “Speedy” said Coleman would tell her she was “looking good” on days she wore a dress, and another student in her class said he noticed she got special attention.

“One day [the girl] went tanning and got a burn,” the student said at the hearings. “Mr. Coleman touched the burned area on her body, above [her] chest [and] below [her] neck.”

The girl also said he would rub her shoulders, once grabbed a necklace off her chest and touched her hair.

She said she went along with the special treatment because it was beneficial.

“I just figured that I’d get good grades out of it,” she said. “I didn’t want to get on his bad side.”

The court filings also detail an incident in which Coleman allegedly used a female student to demonstrate how a medieval torture device worked.

The documents say he instructed her to come up onto his desk, grabbed her by the rib cage, then had her lay down. He then allegedly pulled on the girls arms, making her shirt come up, and grabbed her thighs.

According to hearing testimony, Coleman asked another student to help with the demonstration, but that student refused. That student later said he instinctively knew something inappropriate was happening.

Coleman also is accused of creating a final exam for a 12th-grade participation in government class that included inappropriate vocabulary words and a cartoon of aliens with a caption that included the names of a student with Asperger’s syndrome and his consulting special education teacher.

District officials said Coleman tried to explain the inappropriate vocabulary words by saying they were meant as a joke.

A Dundee High School French teacher testified that she found the student with Asperger’s crying in the hallway after receiving a copy of the test.

“It meant I was weird, strange, abnormal,” the student testified.

Coleman was suspended from the district June 1, the third time he’s been placed on leave after complaints of misconduct. He was first suspended in April 1997 and again in early 2008. He has not taught in a classroom since his last suspension in 2008 but has been working in the district writing class curriculums.

The court documents indicated Coleman faced sexual harassment charges in the 1990s, but they were dropped.

The district also is fighting the decision by Hearing Officer Dennis Campagna that it must continue to pay for Coleman’s health and dental insurance. It is seeking a stay on those payments and reimbursement from Coleman for any health insurance contributions already made by the district.

Campagna made an almost identical decision in the case of Michael Nicot, a former Midlakes math teacher who was found with pornography on his school laptop. That decision was thrown out in Ontario County Court by Judge Frederick Reed for being too lenient.

The Dundee School District is seeking a similar ruling, saying Campagna’s decision is excessively lenient and in violation of strong public policy.

“[Coleman]’s conduct put students at significant risk both emotionally and physically,” states the documents written by Eric Wilson of Ferrara, Fiorenza, Larrison, Barrett & Reitz in East Syracuse, the same law firm that represented Midlakes in the Nicols case.

But in his decision Campagna said Coleman’s track record as an educator, which included many positive evaluations, shouldn’t be discounted completely because of his misconduct.

“It is [Coleman]’s extremely poor judgment and impetuous nature that lures him into trouble,” Campagna wrote in his decision.

“[Coleman] is placed on clear notice that this will be his last chance to demonstrate that he is capable of good judgment in his day-to-day interaction with students. As a sports fan, I am sure that [Coleman] can appreciate that this decision represents his last and final strike.”

(9) comments

anonymous
anonymous

Why is any public school teacher tenured? Reason: No one in government has the guts to stand up and say no more. Who has a job in the real world with tenure. A job for life is a guarantee for a lack of innovation and self improvement.

anonymous
anonymous

What are you waiting for Get Rid of Him.Do you not read the paper and listen to the news???look what happened in Florida and some other States.Wake up!!!!

anonymous
anonymous

Public education should focus on the student and their learning outcome. If the focus is on the student, there is no question that a teacher who interferes with that learning - be it by incompetency or inappropriate behavior - needs to be terminated. This faculty member has at least 13 years of students and colleagues reporting inappropriate behavior. Why is there any debate on removing him?

anonymous
anonymous

Boot the guy, then eliminate tenure and kick the unions out of the schools.

anonymous
anonymous

As a former student of his he has been conducting himself in this manner for as long as he has been at Dundee. I'm glad to see the school is actually going to do something about his abhorrent behavior. This behavior is truly unprofessional and inappropriate.

anonymous
anonymous

I fell that he has had two many breaks how many more times it he going to get away with this. Are we going to have a studend get raped or pos killed due to his anger.. come on where is our kids educational rights

anonymous
anonymous

wow im glad to see there are soo many people who hate doug coleman....tho his demeanor is abrasive and crude...the man is harmless he has never made a physical move on any students and i would know i took everyonne of his classes from 2004-2007...everyone got nicknames didnt matter who you were...yes some of them were stupid and he should have never used them but the man did have a passion for teaching student believe it or not!

anonymous
anonymous

I want to make a few points as a 22 year veteran teacher with tenure and a union supporter.1. Tenure does not guarentee someone a job for life as the previous responder stated. Tenure gives individuals the right of due process. 2. Unions do not condone incompetence, unprofessional conduct and the like. Without the unions teachers would still be paid poverty wages and have deplorable class sizes and unsafe working environments. 3. 3020A hearings to discipline or fire tenured teachers is a fair and equitable process. It may be a lengthy and costly procedure, but one that does work.

anonymous
anonymous

An ignorant , arrogant, horrible man who promotes the evils of social intolerance ( his reference to the aspergers child is unforgivable and should be addressed as a civil rights violation } and perpetuates the myth in society that woman must tolerate sexual harassment to achieve their goals !! As the female student said , "she tolerated it for good grades" !! I too understand sports terms , AND I AM CRYING FOUL !!!GET RID OF HIM!!!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.