Imagine for a moment that you’re a parent in New York City who is paying $55,000 per year to send your child to first-grade classes at the exclusive Dalton preparatory school. Then try to imagine your reaction after your little tyke comes home one afternoon and tells you all about a “special” class they attended that day providing information about “touching yourself” in particular ways, followed by questions. Lots of questions that you and your spouse hadn’t been planning to address until a few years down the line. That’s what took place recently, involving first-grade students under the tutelage of teacher Justine Ang Fonte. We don’t have too many details of precisely what unfolded in the aftermath of this educational excursion, but it’s now been announced that Ms. Fonte will be not returning to teach classes at Dalton in the fall. (NY Post)
A teacher who taught controversial sex-education classes that included cartoon videos on masturbation for first graders at the posh Dalton School has resigned, The Post has learned.
Justine Ang Fonte, who also taught a one-day workshop on “porn literacy” to juniors at Columbia Grammar & Prep School last month that angered some parents, will not return to the school next year, according to an email Dalton’s head of school, Jim Best, sen to parents Friday. Best also will not be returning to Dalton next year.
“Throughout her tenure at Dalton, Justine Ang Fonte has helped to develop an exemplary K-12 Health and Wellness program. Dalton — our faculty, staff, administration, and trustees — continue to stand firmly behind this program and those who teach it,” Best wrote.
If the name of Justine Ang Fonte sounds familiar, it might be because this isn’t the first time she’s popped up in the news here. This is the same teacher who previously delivered a lecture on “porn literacy” (complete with a slide show!) to juniors at Dalton’s high school. That experiment wasn’t enough to see her booted off the faculty, apparently, but perhaps now some sort of breaking point has been reached.
To be fair to Fonte, she claims that the word “masturbation” was never used during the class or in the cartoon on the subject she played for the students. (Yes, there was literally a child’s cartoon about masturbating shown.) But the material seemed to cover the entire topic without invoking “the M-word.” And just as with the porn literacy lecture, parents were not given any advance notification or the chance to opt out of the class.
Amazingly, the head of the school, Jim Best, was still not ready to condemn what’s been going on. After the announcement that Fonte would not be returning, he delivered some glowing praise for the work that she had done. “We support Justine’s aspirations and look forward to honoring her accomplishments as the academic year comes to a close,” Best said. Of course, perhaps not coincidentally, Best has also announced that he too will be parting ways with the school at the end of this semester.
Incredibly, neither of these people were fired from their jobs. They’re simply being allowed to finish out the term and resign. But if there was no official disciplinary action taken, why would they leave?
The press was unable to obtain a comment from either of them, but the answer to that mystery may be found in the fact that Dalton is a private, for-profit school. One of the great advantages a place like Dalton has over public schools is the fact that your children are not being held hostage by the teacher’s union. The school is accountable for what happens there and the families paying all of that tuition money have a voice in such matters and a seat at the table. It’s not difficult to imagine that the phones were ringing off the hooks at Dalton and parents were threatening to take their children and their tuition money elsewhere.
Fonte prided herself on eleven years of “disrupting health education.” She certainly accomplished that goal. Now she and Mr. Best are going to have to figure out how to repair the “disruption” they’ve caused in their careers. And if they’re lucky, the students at Dalton can return to something resembling a bit more normal educational routine.