Detroit teacher fired for breaking up fight with broom, sues EAA

The Detroit teacher who was fired last spring for using a broom to break up a classroom fight has filed a lawsuit against the Education Achievement Authority.

Tiffani Eaton filed a federal lawsuit last Friday against the EAA, Chancellor Veronica Conforme, HR director Carla West, and five 'Jane and John Does' for unspecified damages. According to the filing, Eaton is seeking a jury trial and says administrators failed to warn or prepare her for the 'violent conditions' at Pershing High School. Eaton claims she never "received an employee handbook and was untrained to handle violent disputes amongst gang members." 

Eaton also claimed other teachers who physically intervened to break up fights were never disciplined. 

Eaton, you may remember, was fired in May 2014 when she intervened between two students in a classroom fight. Video of the fight at Pershing High School was recorded and uploaded online

The video shows the two students fighting in a classroom for at least 30 seconds as other students watch. Desks were knocked over and the two continued fighting until Eaton used a broom to hit one of the students in the back multiple times. 

Eaton said she used her two-way radio to call for help but it was not properly working. She said that one of the boys was on top of the other and punching him in the face and she didn't believe he would stop. She said she 'exhausted' her list of options to stop the fight and grabbed an aluminum broomstick.

That student backs off but the other runs towards him to restart the fight. A few seconds later, a third student intervenes and puts an end to the fight. 

The next day, the video was uploaded to YouTube and Eaton was questioned by school officials. The lawsuit claims they pressured her to resign but she refused and they terminated her.

The EAA said at the time that the school does not tolerate child abuse. Pershing High School is part of the Education Achievement Authority, the state's school turnaround district. The EAA district does not have a union so the teacher had no grounds to file an appeal. 

One week after she was fired, Eaton was reinstated as a teacher at Pershing High School. She did not accept the job and said she is 'afraid of returning to the classroom'.

In her lawsuit, Eaton said there was an unusually high amount of fighting and violence which the district was aware of but did not explain to her when she took the job in January 2014. 

Eaton, who is black, claims in her lawsuit her race was also a factor and that a white female teacher put a student in a headlock to stop a fight but never got into in trouble. 

As a result of the incident, Eaton said she has suffered from emotional distress, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

FOX 2 has reached out to the EAA and Eaton's attorneys for comment on the lawsuit.

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