UPPER MARLBORO — All charges have been dropped against a Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) teacher accused of fighting a student, according to the State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO).
Largo High School teacher Vivian Noirie was still facing assault charges as of Jan. 14 after a second-degree child abuse charge was dropped. But on Jan. 15, prosecutors said all charges had been dismissed.
“The charges against Vivian Noire have been dismissed,” SAO spokeswoman Denise Smith said in an email. “The office is still investigating the facts surrounding the incident to determine if future charges are appropriate.”
Noirie, 36, of Clinton was arrested and charged initially with second-degree physical child abuse and second-degree assault after engaging in a fight with a 17-year-old, 12th-grade student on Nov. 15. She spent the following weekend in jail and was released after a court appearance on Nov. 18.
The cellphone video of the incident quickly circulated on social media and subsequently fostered national headlines.
According to the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD), the altercation began at around 10:22 a.m. on Nov. 15 when the student approached Noirie, upset after the second-year educator called the student’s parents the night before. As the student began to walk forward, she stepped on Noirie’s foot and shoulder-pushed her; The Sentinel reported shortly after the incident.
According to PGPD Chief Hank Stawinski, Noirie lunged forward and began to assault the student with numerous blows to the head and body. Students and school employees stepped in to break up the scuffle, but once the two were separated, the student struck Noirie in the head from behind.
Nobody required medical treatment following the physical altercation, police said. Ever since the time of the incident, Noirie’s employment status has not changed.
“Ms. Noirie is still on administrative leave,” confirmed Gabrielle Brown, the PGCPS director of media relations. “PGCPS does not have any additional comments at this time.”
The incident is a symptom of a larger issue of underfunding and lack of resources in public schools, said Theresa Dudley, president of the Prince George’s County Educators Association.
“The lack of support services in certain schools is a problem,” Dudley said.
“When you don’t have the right number of guidance counselors for referral for counseling help when you don’t have teachers who are trained in restorative practices when you don’t have teachers who are trained how to de-escalate a problematic student and when you don’t have the school psychologists and the trauma-informed classroom training, it is a recipe for an incident like this to occur.”
Equitable funding from the state would be a way for local public schools to have access to the various services and resources that Dudley mentioned.
The source of funding that Dudley spoke of would come from the Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, a multi-year initiative designed to research and develop major funding and policy reforms to improve the quality of Maryland’s public education system.
One of the advantages of the Kirwan Commission, Dudley said, is that it would make provisions for mental health counselors in the school system and trauma-informed instruction training in public schools.
“When students are in a traumatic situation like that, how do you deal with them? Clearly, that young lady was in trauma,” Dudley said. “How do we train people so that they know how to de-escalate a situation like that so that it doesn’t get exacerbated?”
The video captures the student and the teacher strike one another, and some of the gestures that led up to the scuffle. However, the video only gives viewers a glimpse of what the story fully consists of, according to Dudley.
“The video is just a small piece of what really happened. There’s more to the story,” Dudley said. “She (Noirie) is a new teacher. She was placed in a situation where she needed support. She needed support (in) being able to know what to do, she needed to be trained in de-escalation…the fact is that the resources that she needed, she did not have.”
Dudley and several of her colleagues set up a GoFundMe page to assist with Noirie’s legal fees; the fundraiser, entitled “Educator Defense Fund,” surpassed its $5,000 goal. Also, Dudley said she believed Noirie should have never spent the weekend in jail, arguing that the video reveals that the student was the aggressor.
According to Dudley, Noirie called the school’s front office before the incident got physical, but no one showed up until the fight happened.
“In my opinion, I believe that the teacher was in a mindset of self-defense,” she said.
Dudley has problematized the fact that the fight was posted on social media.
“I think the social media policy that we have gives these kids too much access to social media in the building,” Dudley said.
There a number of schools in the Washington metropolitan area that do not allow children to have their cell phones on in a classroom, Dudley continued.
“We have students who are staging fights, to videotape the fights and put it on social media. That’s a problem,” she said. “Why does a child need a phone in school? Why are these kids walking around with their phones on all the time in the building?”
Since the charges have been dismissed, Dudley said she contacted Noirie, expressing that she was relieved that the charges were dropped.
According to reports, police said detectives are petitioning for charges against the student through the juvenile court system. Because the student is a juvenile, police and school officials have not released her identity or any additional details regarding possible charges against her.