A Brooklyn gym teacher, reportedly fired for playing video games with his students, is now suing for his job back.
In a lawsuit against the Department of Education, 29-year-old Brett Belsky says he was just being an “inspirational educator” when he told his MS 890 students he’d play Fortnite with them if they got their grades up, NYPost reports.
“As any great educator would do, Mr. Belsky sought the best ways to motivate and connect with his students,” the suit reads, according to the news site. “In the Spring of the 2017-2018 school year, Mr. Belsky overheard his students talking about an internationally popular videogame called ‘Fortnite.’”
“At the same time, he found some of these students were not focusing on their school work,” the suit continues. “In sum and substance, he stated to them ‘…if you pay attention, and do well in class, you could play against me online.'” But apparently, this strategy wasn’t cool with one of his student’s dads. The site goes on to report:
“He wrote his username for the popular game on the classroom board. He also discussed this tactic, and another involving giving an autographed hockey puck as a reward, with the mother of ‘Student A’, at a parent teacher conference. But his ‘games for grades’ strategy blew up when the creeped-out father of ‘Student A’ notified the principal that the grown man was playing games with his kid online.”
In his suit, he is claiming that the department “looked to build a false narrative about Mr. Belsky’s conduct outside the ‘games for grades’ investigation.” Additionally, Belsky notes that their official SCI report didn’t indicate anything inappropriate had occurred between himself and Student A, not to mention the report says the mother of the student “felt this conduct was appropriate and motivational.”
“Belsky also claims the DOE couldn’t even categorize his alleged misconduct, because their current guideline system doesn’t account for the online atmosphere,” NYPost continues. “He also alleges that officials wrongfully tarred him with three disciplinary letters — one for ‘spinning a girl’ in gym class, another for accepting a hug from a student, and a third for saying he wanted to ‘adopt’ a student. Belsky denies ever saying he wanted to adopt the child.”
Belsky wants the Department of Education to give him his job back, renew his teaching license, erase the allegations from his record, and is also requesting attorney fees and back pay. Do you think his methods were just unconventional, inappropriate, or both? See his photo here.