A New Jersey teacher is out of a job after admittedly “going ballistic” in front of his special education class earlier this year, during which he repeatedly spewed the n-word and other profanity. Vincent Serpico, a math teacher at Piscataway High School, apparently lost his cool after a May 8 encounter with a student in the boy’s bathroom who was playing music on a boom box featuring lyrics Serpico called “offensive” and said, “he did not really enjoy,” according to the Bridgewater Courier News.
The teacher returned to his geometry class, and a student came in a short time after talking and laughing about an incident involving another student and teacher. Serpico chided the student and told him it wasn’t funny, then instructed him to remove his ear phones. Walking back to his desk, Serpico asked the student to remove his ear phones once more before becoming completely unhinged. “I go in the bathroom, I hear, ‘N—-r, n—-r, n—-r, f–k you, suck my d–k,’” he told students, according to an arbitrator.
“This is all I hear all day.” One of his students was so upset by the language that she asked for a pass to be excused to The Haven, a counseling area at the high school, the newspaper reported. Serpico tried to explain that his rant wasn’t directed at anyone in particular and that he was only echoing what he’d heard in the bathroom. Still, he gave the student a pass to leave. Serpico, who’s worked at the school since 2009, tried turning his attention back to the class but heard the first student telling another student that the teacher would be reported, then fired. That’s when Serpico really got upset.
In videos captured by at least five students, Serpico is seen getting in the teen’s face and shouting at him. He got so close at one point that the student was forced to get up from his seat. “I’m tired of this sh-t you pull every day,” the instructor says in one of the clips. In the midst of his frustration, Serpico told students there was no way he’d get in trouble for the rant “because nobody cares.” It wasn’t long before the students’ videos went viral, sparking a flurry of complaints from angry parents. This isn’t the first time Serpico’s classroom behavior has been criticized, however. The teacher had previously been disciplined for referring to students as “idiots,” the Bridgewater Courier News reported.
In his meeting with arbitrator’s, Serpico acknowledged his outburst was inappropriate but said he had become “unhappy” at the high school. He’d made several attempts to return to the local middle school but had no luck. “I am just tired of saying the same stuff, numerous times, everyday for X amount of years,” he testified. “[The students] got the best of me. I’m sorry I even did that.” John Sands, the arbitrator, wrote that Serpico’s rant “served no legitimate pedagogical purpose” and said there was no reason he should be allowed to continue teaching. “Those words…have nothing at all to do with mathematics and, with a few legitimate exceptions, have no place in a classroom,” Sands wrote, adding that the rant was “destructive of what special education students need to hear.”