We put a lot of faith in teachers to both educate our little ones and keep them safe and secure while they’re out of our hands. That’s why it’s so troubling to hear stories of negligent or abusive educators — any breach of trust is worse when the safety of our children is at stake. Whether it was child abuse, recklessness, or worse, here are just a few of the very worst teachers in recent history.
UPDATED: Scroll down to see some of the more recent worst teachers in history.
Authorities caught this assistant principal from Cramerton, NC, sharing explicit texts with a 17-year-old student. During the ensuing trial, testimony revealed Lisa Rothwell had carried on an intimate sexual relationship with the student for months. She faces six counts of felony sexual activity between a teacher and student.
One of the most recent stories surrounds Sara Damyan. The 33-year-old former special education teacher is accused of having given a 14-year-old boy marijuana-laced tea and candies, then sexually assaulting him as they watched movies at her place. The boy was not one of her students, but someone who went to her for after-school tutoring. The Sun-Times reported that Damyan told of her exploits to a friend who reported the event to authorities. Her trial is still pending.
Even substitute teachers can make the worst teachers in history list. While substituting in a North Carolina elementary class, Temple made a number of inflammatory and racially insensitive remarks. These included spreading a lie that Martin Luther King, Jr. died by suicide rather than assassination and telling the kids they would end up in jail because of the athletic merchandise they wore. She resigned after students told their parents about the incident.
Twenty-three-year-old science teacher Kendall Burk carried out a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student over summer break, authorities say. During this time, the pair had sexual relations on four occasions, two in Burk’s car and two in her home. She’s currently facing four counts of rape and four counts of sodomy.
This disgruntled teacher from Hillsborough, NC was heard by coworkers making several threats to “shoot up the school.” She even gave some teachers a code she would use to warn them so they could stay home when she did it: “the squash is ripe.” Thompson quickly resigned when the threats became known. Authorities are charging her with “communicating a threat of mass violence.”
The teacher on our “worst in history” list brought a beat down like you’ve never seen…
As worst teachers in history go, this one was epic. This case gained national attention after a video of Lankford viciously beating a student went viral. The substitute can be seen punching a 15-year-old several times before throwing him on the ground and stomping his back. Lankford has since been fired by the school and charged with aggravated assault.
Kristen Lynne Boyle
Another all-too-common case of inappropriate contact between student and faculty, this story involved a California school psychologist initiating a sexual relationship with her patient, a minor. “This betrayal of trust is even more egregious because she used her position to gain her victim’s trust and then exploited the therapist/patient relationship to prey on one of the very students she was entrusted with helping,” Orange County DA Todd Spitzer said of the case. Boyle now faces statutory rape charges.
One of the most high-profile cases of 2019 was that of 28-year-old teacher Brittany Zamora, who was found guilty of having sex with a 13-year-old student in a classroom while another student kept watch. She then carried out a relationship with the first student, and even tried to convince his father to not go to police. Zamora will spend up to 20 years in prison for her crimes.
Think she’s the worst of the worst teachers in recent history? Keep going…