The Westport middle/high school teacher at the head of the “Happy Endings” story controversy has resigned. Matt Shivers, who had been on paid leave since the first week of the school …
The Westport Middle High School teacher at the head of the “Happy Endings” story controversy has resigned.
Matt Shivers, who had been on paid leave since the first week of the school year, resigned Tuesday, Sept. 19, superintendent Thomas Aubin confirmed Friday morning. He declined to comment further except to say the position has been posted and a replacement will be hired.
Shivers, who also served as the head coach of the lacrosse team last year, was placed on leave after the parent of a student complained following that Shivers's presentation of “Happy Endings,” a short story by Margaret Atwood not previously approved by the district, contained inappropriate material. The short story contains graphic references to drug use, sex and suicide.
Superintendent Thomas Aubin said shortly after the complaint was received that the district was investigating. He also confirmed then that the teacher, who he did not identify him by name, had been placed on paid leave.
“The leadership of Westport Community Schools is fiercely protective of our students’ emotional, physical and academic well-being,” Aubin said. “That is our first mission.”
The controversy generated thousands of online comments by the Friday morning after the parent lodged his complaint, from those who said the teacher should be fired to others who said muzzling good educators, and young students, is wrong.
“The wording and the content of that book is disgusting in any form,” wrote Savior Outreach Ministry. “Anyone who believes differently is lacking moral character. Stand up Westport now is your time. We cannot allow this to happen to our children in any fashion.”
“As I have no idea the context of the reading material I am not going to judge it, but I am going to judge the manner at which this teacher is being dragged through the mud,” added Michelle Duarte. “I have known this teacher since he started in Westport and he is a brilliant teacher who has a love for literature and theatre. To say things like he doesn’t belong anywhere near the schools or children, are you serious?”
Aubin said the district has several policies in place that dictate curriculum requirements and teacher conduct. In this case, he said, the book “was not purchased by Westport Community Schools, nor was it presented to this administration.”
“Anybody who is using this type of ancillary material as a professional education knows that if they’re going to present something controversial, it is best practice to pass that to the leadership before giving it to students,” Aubin said at the time.