February Dick of the Month: Julie Gurta

I’m sure we all have some experience with different languages, whether you learned Spanish in High School or just call customer service and attempt to piece Pashto together.  I’ve always wanted to learn another language, and I’ve attempted so a few times.  I have studied Japanese, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Korean, Russian, Italian, French, and Arabic.  Sadly my studies always resulted in the same event:

I learn pronunciation, a few words…and then my memory fails me and I can’t memorize enough words to become fluent.

So being able to know even the lowliest phrase from another language is something I’m proud of.  And I think that most teachers would agree that learning a second language is a good studious effort.

But not Ms. Julie Gurta, a teacher from the Sacred Heart Middle School in Shawano, Wisconsin.  No Siree, Ms. Gurta believes that school is not a place for diversity and knowledge, apparently.

When seventh-grader Miranda Washinawatok told her friends ‘I love you’ in her Native American family’s tribal language of Menominee, Ms. Gurta was quick to snap into action.

“She sort of threw her hands down on her desk and said don’t be talking like that,” claimed the seventh-grader.  Apparently the teacher continued with this gem, “How would you like it if I started talking Polish?”

I think that would be a great lesson, teaching the kids some Polish; what a learning experience, how wonderful!  But no, instead Gurta scolded the student in the middle of class for speaking in a language the teacher couldn’t understand.

Young Miranda was also forced to sit-out her next middle-school basketball game; her mother was told it was because Miranda was ‘disrespectful to a teacher’.  But when Miranda’s mother asked which teacher, administrator, or coach had handed down the punishment, all she got were blank stares and the runaround.  Nobody knew who or why Miranda was not allowed to participate…she just wasn’t allowed to participate is all.

Some weeks later, after several local news agencies bombarded the school with questions (and were subsequently directed to the Wisconsin Arch-Diocese because it is a Catholic School) a round of apologies began to surface.  First the Arch-Diocese issued an apology, then the school itself and the principal apologized, as did the girl’s basketball coach.

And finally we arrive at why Ms. Gurta is…February Dick of the Month.  Ms. Gurta also offered an apology, but not so much to Miranda, but rather to Miranda’s parents.  Ms. Gurta apologized for not disciplining Miranda earlier and not giving her a harsher discipline.  Apparently Gurta believed that Miranda’s atrocities should have been brought to the attention of those in power long before she called the student out in the middle of a class of mostly other Native Americans for being ‘different’.  Even though, really, Gurta is the odd-woman out for being Polish in a room full of Native Americans.

“Unfortunately, the actions of your daughter were not brought to your attention as quickly as they should have been, and for this I apologize.”

And for that pseudo-apology, Julie Gurta, you are February’s Dick of the Month.

3/27/2012 Update:

Given the challenge of my sources, I have decided to do something I don’t normally do…include full sourcing for this story.  I normally don’t like to clutter my posts with a dozen or so links, because in the end we’re just an entertainment site and not a legitimately sanctions news outlet.  I get all my info from other people like CNN, Yahoo!, or local news outlets.  So if you want to read the same story fifty times like I do for each of these, have at it (they all open in new windows, see how many you can open at one time before the computer crashes, I dare you!).

Yahoo! Story

Green Bay Press-Gazette

NBC26 Online Story

Principal Dan Minto’s Letter to Parents (.pdf file)

The Raw Story’s story on the Diocese’s Apology

Huffington Post

The Shawno Leader’s Counseling Story

The Native News Network

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. James Fluette
    Mar 21, 2012 @ 18:17:07

    So….. dick of the month wow… maybe you should get the facts straight before judging a school teacher! Maybe you should keep your kids home and home school them. I am Native american and fully side with this teach who also teaches my niece and nephew. She is their favorite teacher! Yes favorite….. and my niece is also native american. The girl was out of line and was disciplined, just because a teacher can’t speak up for herself because she is told she can’t then we will, so good give her the title dick of the month, she is there to teach our children not to let our children speak out in our native language….. it is a catholic school and if it were appropriate she would not have gotten disciplined. If it were not for wonderful teachers such as Ms Gurta our children would not grow up to be wonderful people. Did you ever think there is a side of the story you have not heard? Maybe hey let’s just listen to a 12 year old who is in trouble? Not a teacher who puts in countless hours to mold our children into future role models. So I am sick and tired of you guys going after the almighty witch hunt! Just for some stupid story. Get A Life! Appreciate our teachers!

    Reply

    • Dickjutsu
      Mar 22, 2012 @ 01:18:49

      Julie Gurta is not a teacher, she’s an overpaid bully behind a desk. And it doesn’t matter whether Miranda was Native American, Chinese, or Polish, herself. She should be proud to speak multiple languages.
      You are right, though…Gurta is there to teach children; not to bully them and ostracize them, which is what she did. If Gurta knew even a single word of Polish, that would have been a great lesson. Compare the Polish for ‘I love you’ with the Menominee for it. But that’s teaching, that’s not what Gurta does, apparently.
      I won’t even touch your comment about Catholic Schools only doing the right thing. Whether Catholic Schools should be accredited or not is a completely different story.
      But it seems that you are right, I don’t have the whole story. I only read about the girl, Miranda…and her mother…and the principal, and the Archdiocese, and the coach, and of course Gurta’s disrespectful letter. How much of the story have you heard?
      I’d have no problems hosting Ms. Gurta’s response to her award, or the affairs in general, here on my site. Especially after she gets fired, which she should be.
      ~RCS
      P.S. Maybe if your teacher had taught a little more about language, you’d know something or two about grammar and punctuation, too. Look up syntax in a dictionary, while you’re at it.

      Reply

      • Nunya Dang Business
        Apr 22, 2012 @ 21:40:25

        Don’t worry @Dickjutsu “James Fluette” doesn’t have the full story either. They’re just going from what they’re being told. And what they’re being told is that “Oh Miranda is such a god awful student, who disrespects other authorities.” -My answer to that is: I’ve been to Scared Heart School before to sit in the back of the classroom and observe. Yeah sure, maybe not in Gurta’s room but in Wendy Lundt’s room. Miranda sits in the last row in the back. She’s actually very quiet, as well as the rest of the class goes? They are all very respectful young kids. AS THEY SHOULD BE.

        I seen no yelling, screaming, glares towards the teacher, no talking back, no speaking out of turn. (maybe not while i was their) they were all talking amongst the subject (whatever that was) Literature, or discussing about Literature.

    • Nunya Dang Business
      Apr 22, 2012 @ 21:33:24

      “The girl was out of line and was disciplined” -other students are disrespectful too, not just Miranda.
      “Just because a teacher can’t speak up for herself because she is told she can’t then we will” -Why can’t she speak up? What is Gurta 2 years old and can’t talk? Anyways why the hell are you standing up for her, just because your niece and nephew say she’s their “favorite teacher” doesn’t give you the right to talk shit about Miranda or her mother for that matter!

      Reply

  2. angusfletcher
    Mar 23, 2012 @ 15:08:27

    Well, at least you admit that you don’t have the full story and only have the story as told by a 12 year old girl that had been getting into trouble all day. But the sad part is that most of what you claim can’t be backed up by any of what you claim to be citing.

    Let’s start with your claim that Miranda told her friends “I love you” in her native language. This contradicts every story out there right now states that Miranda claim to be “teaching” two of her Menominee friends how to say “I love you”, “Hello”, and “Thank you”. Which right away should prick up your dickie radar. In a school that is claimed to have a 60% Menominee population (diverse you call it), why would she need to teach other Menominee friends such basic words? And why do it in a Math class of all places? Right away something doesn’t sound right about this girls story.

    Next let’s move on to your claim that “she threw her hands down on the desk…”. If you do a little bit of research you would see that some claim she SLAMMED her FIST into the desk. And this is as reported by the 12 year old, not in the teachers letter, not mentioned in the principals letter and not in the letter from the diocese. Yet you claim those are your sources. Same goes for the “how would you like it if I spoke Polish” comment. The only person to make this claim is the 12 year old that needed to find an excuse to explain to her mother why she would not be playing in that nights “parent recognition” basketball game. I’m sure she was telling the truth. Must be. She is an honor student after all (so they claim) and no honor student would ever lie.

    Next you make the bold claim that Miranda had to sit out the game because “she was disrespectful to a teacher”. Where are you getting that from? Most of the reports claim that the student had been disrespectful all day. But of course the mother isn’t talking about that since her princess”honor student” is incapable of bad behavior.

    Now we examine your claim that “all she got were blank stares and the runaround”. Yet another claim that can’t be found in what you claim to be your sources. Most accounts say that the assistant coach handed down the suspension with the approval of the principal which makes sense because a teacher can’t suspend someone from a basketball game unless she also happens to be the coach or assistant coach.

    And after you examine my post for “language” problems that you accuse Mr. Fluette’s of, you should then examine this sentence of yours above and try to make it make sense “Nobody knew who or why Miranda was not allowed to participate…”

    Where do you read that “several local news agencies bombarded the school with questions”? Another one that comes out of thin air. And when you read those apologies that you cite, read them very carefully and note what exactly they are apologizing for. It’s not for what you seem to think.

    And another dozy: “Ms. Gurta apologized for not disciplining Miranda earlier and not giving her a harsher discipline.” I know it’s fun to make this stuff up but don’t do it under the guise of actually claiming to be honest.

    And another fairy tale: “she called the student out in the middle of a class of mostly other Native Americans for being ‘different’”. Really? Where do you read that?

    “…Gurta is the odd-woman out for being Polish…” She’s Polish? Where did you read that?

    “If Gurta knew even a single word of Polish…” She doesn’t? Where did you read that?

    You ask Mr. Fluette “How much of the story have you heard?” Well, since he apparently has family at the school, probably much more than you have. He may have even attended the school staff / parent meeting where 100% (minus Miranda’s mother of course) of the “60% Native” parents / guardians voiced full support for the school and the staff (Ms. Gurta included) while emphasizing the lack of discipline by both parents and school staff. I wonder why that is?

    Reply

    • Dickjutsu
      Mar 27, 2012 @ 04:49:43

      You don’t understand sarcasm, do you? I was being sarcastic when I said I didn’t get the whole story. See? Where I said I only read about the girl…AND her mother…AND the coach…AND the principal, etc.?
      As for your second comment. I’ve seen no evidence that Sacred Heart is 60% Menominee; 60% Native American, perhaps, but in the same region the Menominee lived there were also several other Native American tribes, such as the Oneota. And even if her friends were of Menominee descent, that doesn’t mean they know the language. Miranda grew up on the reservation until she was a few years old, maybe they didn’t. I’m of Irish and German descent, doesn’t mean I automatically know fancy Gaelic and Deutsch words. Oh, and it happened during Home Room, not during Math Class. To me something doesn’t sound right about you challenging my research.
      I quoted Miranda’s comments as I read them from the Prep Rally story. I didn’t modify the quote at all; so yes that is what the 12-year-old said, I always laid it out that way, I never said anyone else claimed that part. And yes, Honor Students lie all the time…as do teachers.
      Gurta had her outburst, then told the teacher of her next class that she had disciplined Miranda. The teacher of that class, without doing any fact-checking (like yourself, apparently), pulled Miranda to the head of the class and publicly chastised her for what she had done in another class. Same thing happened with the coach pulling her from the game, he even admitted to that. The coach wrote an apology letter saying he didn’t give Miranda the chance to defend herself and just disciplined her for something he didn’t witness and didn’t research and apologized for it. And after being bullied by a teacher or two for teaching my friends a few new words, I’d be in a pretty disrespectful mood, myself; so I really don’t blame the kid if she didn’t follow obediently all day long that particular day.
      You talk a lot about these ‘accounts’ and ‘sources’. But I haven’t read anything to suggest half the things you say your sources suggest. I listed the most prominent of my sources in the post, that’s the link you clearly didn’t click, and I’ll list a few more at the end of this response.
      Good eye to catch that one single typo. Better take back my diploma for that one. you know the worst part? It’s still a complete sentence and isn’t even a typo:
      “Nobody knew who or why Miranda was not allowed to participate…” Nobody is the main clause, a proper noun. What did Nobody do? Nobody knew. What did Nobody know? Who or Why Miranda wasn’t allowed to participate in the game. Miranda’s mother asked why her daughter wasn’t allowed to play, no one gave her an answer. So Miranda’s mother asked who gave the ruling to prohibit her daughter, and no one gave her an answer. So no one knew who or why she wasn’t allowed to play. It sounds weird because I’m using words usually reserved as proper nouns in a more common setting within the sentence, but it is more correct than some of the comma-loaded run-ons I use to faciliate a joke in my posts.
      From one of my real, existant, sources (NBC26 from Green Bay) comes this line: “But when Tanaes asked the administration who handed down the punishment, she couldn’t get a straight answer.” Add in some hyperbole for humor (this article is primarily a humor featurette, if you hadn’t noticed) and you get my sentence.
      This is a direct quote from Gurta’s letter: “Unfortunately, the actions of your daughter were not brought to your attention as quickly as they should have been, and for this I apologize.” Now who’s making what up? Gurta clearly states that she feels she should have reacted faster and harsher than she did.
      As for Gurta’s Polish background, it’s rather assumed by her comments. Miranda is Menominee so she spoke Menominee (which is actually Ojibwe, an Algonquin language, I believe); so if Gurta compared Miranda’s speaking Menominee to her speaking Polish, that implies she either doesn’t understand what a metaphor is or she is of Polish descent.
      And I never claimed she didn’t know Polish, I said that if she did know it, it would have been a great teaching moment. Where did you read that she did know Polish?
      You’re right…he might have attended that meeting. But I don’t think you’re right about the results. Another of my real, existent (unlike yours), sources suggests the opposite. It states that school’s principal actually offered counseling opportunities to the students because of the incident. To quote the story…”The family’s complaints about the incident led to meetings involving the family, school officials and the Diocese of Green Bay, as well as a backlash from people criticizing the school’s handling of the incident.” Yeah, sounds like the neighborhood came out with 100% support for the school all right.
      I’ve edited my post to include an update with all the sources I used. Click a link or two and read a bit more into the subject. Feel free to respond with some of these sources of yours, as well, I always enjoy hearing or reading the opposing side to any story.
      ~RCS
      P.S. Sorry Angus, just like every other site you’ve gone and defended Gurta at, I’m gonna have to call bullshit on your flawed reasoning and so-called ‘sources’. 😉

      Reply

    • Nunya Dang Business
      Apr 22, 2012 @ 21:21:00

      Angus Fletcher? really?really? you didn’t think people would know its you, the snot nosed faker behind a screen name? I’ve been checking up on the stories about Miranda and let me tell you, we all agree besides “James Fluette” that your afraid to show your true identity because you know you will get your ass beat. I ain’t afraid of you. You obviously are a teacher at the school, or a friend of Gurta’s who can’t let Gurta stick up for herself.

      If Miranda the girl we’ve been hearing the side of the story from, is the only one telling it, WHERE IS GURTA????!!? Gurta can set up a press release of her side of the story but why hasn’t she yet? Because she has two-face fakers like you on her side. Yeah sure, let Gurta be the one that you want the sympathy for from others. But on the other hand, Miranda has the WHOLE FUCKING WORLD on her side.

      -SIncerely, Nunya Dang Business

      Reply

  3. Crystal Waters
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 09:32:00

    Hi Billie Jo, and Tanya! What you didn’t think I’d realize it was you from NBC26 comments, well too fucking bad I found ya’s. You both think you can just talk shit about Miranda? I’ll fire back insults as fast as you take them in.

    Reply

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