File this under it’s a crazy, mixed up world. An Arizona teacher was fired for defending a fourth-grade boy from bullies who called him the N-word, “monkey” and “crackhead” after one bully’s mother complained about the teacher’s actions.

The New York Daily News reported:

Pam Aister, a 25-year teaching veteran, was booted from her classroom at Four Peaks Elementary School near Phoenix after administrators said she was too harsh on a group of boys who’d been picking on 9-year-old Malachi Gillis.

The Gillises told local CBS5 the abuse was so bad they had to move Malachi to a different school.

“‘You belong to a zoo,’ ‘stupid head,’ ‘monkey,’ ‘crackhead,'” said Malachi, quoting what he said were daily taunts from a group of five boys.

Things came to head last spring when Aister confronted the alleged bullies.

“He is not alone. When you pick on him, you pick on me,” Aister told the group, according to CBS5. “It is not five to one anymore. It is five to two.”

School administrators said a mother of one the alleged bullies complained.

Aister was accused of threatening the boys, telling them to “shut up” and belittling one over his “ugly face,” according to one report.

At a hearing Monday, Fountain Hills Unified School District officials voted 4-1 to fire her.

It’s a shame that the mother of the bully skipped the important step of disciplining her own child and instead chose to blame the teacher for chiding him. Should the teacher have called the child ugly? Well, probably not. But sometimes these bullies need to get a taste of their own medicine. Of course this is probably why I’m not in the education field. Either way it seems extreme that you would fire a veteran teach over this one incident as if there were no other disciplinary actions.

Supporters have launched a petition on Change.org to have Aister reinstated, and by Thursday it had received more than 2,200 signatures.

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