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EMF Studies

03 March 2016

Rhode Island Teacher Who Claims Wi-Fi Makes Her Sick Fired for Insubordination

RI Teacher who Claims WiFi Makes her Sick Fired for Insubordination
by Mark Schieldrop (Patch Staff), patch.com, 23 February 2016 

A teacher who says WiFi signals cause migranes and other health problems allegedly unplugged a router and refused to give the PARCC test.

NORTH KINGSTOWN, RI—A teacher who says electromagnetic fields and WiFI signals make her sick has been fired by the school district for insubordination.

The School Committee last week, in a rare public airing of a school personnel conflict, voted 4-0 to terminate North Kingstown High School Math Teacher Shelley McDonald at the end of the school year after accepting the superintendent’s recommendation.

The vote sets the stage for a formal evidentiary hearing that will be held before March 1 upon which the vote can be finalized.

Superintendent Phil Auger said that McDonald failed to attend two training sessions for the standardized PARCC test on two occasions last year, refused to administer the PARCC test in December and unplugged a wireless router in defiance of the school principal.

“We cannot allow district staff to be insubordinate to superiors,” Superintendent Phil Auger said as he read from his recommendation.

In her defense, McDonald pleaded with the committee to let her keep her job and said it is her livelihood and loves teaching. She said that the WiFi radiation and the “EMF from those devices are harmful and make me sick.

“I have never refused to attend a training,” she said. ”I have asked for accommodation for training done on safe, hard-wired computers when the training is scheduled for wireless devices.”


McDonald said that she felt she was being fired in retaliation for her advocacy on the issue of WiFi radiation.

“I’m loud and I’m a persistent advocate for the health and well-being of my students,” she said. “I persist despite [warnings] because I believe a serious health threat exists in our classrooms and I have a responsibility to my students to advocate.”

McDonald’s union representation told the School Committee that the district was clearly acting in retaliation and described the teacher as the victim of whistle-blower retribution.

John Leidecker of the Rhode Island Chapter of the National Education Association said that the superintendent ignored her concerns about her health caused by the electromagnetic radiation. When she approached Auger two years ago and asked him to sign a document accepting responsibility for WiFI causing her health problems, Leidecker said, “he suppressed her concerns. . .dismissed them outright and we regard this termination as retaliation because she chose to speak out.

“Frankly, it sounds like a whistle-blower violation,” he said.

In response to a school department demand to see McDonald’s medical records to justify her accommodation requests, Leidecker said that she refused for understandable reasons, but he did hand over a letter from her doctor to School Committee members which apparently detailed her various symptoms. McDonald also urged committee members to speak to her doctor directly.

Leidecker’s core argument centered on the premise that McDonald’s claim of suffering from electromagnetic hypersensitivity isn’t at hand, even with it not being a medically-recognized condition and widely-referenced medical research that shows most suffers can not determine when a WiFi signal is flicked on or off in blind tests.

Instead, he said, is that the fact remains she suffers, and accommodations must be met in the same way that school districts are compelled to accommodate allergy sufferers.

“I can eat peanuts but I know schools segregate wide areas because of allergens that may not affect anyone else,” he said.

McDonald also contends that she did not accept the terms of service for administering the PARCC test after she saw language before clicking the accept button indicating that she would be consenting to her Social Security number being transmitted to the testing company, Pearson. That was why she did not administer the test, she said.

Auger told the committee that he checked with the state Department of Education and they confirmed that no such information was being transmitted to Pearson. When asked if she would agree to the terms now, Leidecker said not until more concrete documentation flatly proving such a claim.

To watch video of the hearing, a full copy is posted HERE.

This story could be updated.

http://patch.com/rhode-island/newport/s/fmdeg/ri-teacher-who-claims-wifi-makes-her-sick-fired-for-insubordination

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