Teacher's Apology For Mocking Disabled Students On A Podcast Sparks Even More Backlash — 'She Wrote This On ChatGPT'

Many think the only sufficient apology would be not having made the comments in the first place.

Screenshots from Lauran Woolley's Apology For Her 'Teachers Off Duty' Podcast Comments TikTok

Everyone needs to blow off steam about their job—and that's probably doubly true when your job is being a teacher. But it's all too easy for complaints to veer into inappropriate territory, a line a teacher recently crossed online—and her apology is only making things worse.

Teacher and online content creator Lauran Wooley is having to backtrack on comments she made while on "Teachers Off Duty," a popular podcast that brings a panel of teachers together to talk about the highs and lows of life as a teacher. Given how both rewarding and often punishingly difficult the teaching profession is, there's plenty to talk about. But a recent episode went off the rails when the show's panelists, including co-hosts Devin Siebold and Woolley, who also has a popular TikTok under the username @mrs.woolleyin5th on the app, veered into comments many have found ableist.


Teacher Lauran Woolley's apology for ableist comments she made on the 'Teachers Off Duty' podcast has only deepened the backlash.

Woolley mocked special education students on IEP plans as dishonest and laughed along when another panelist joked about students being 'dumb.' 

IEP, which stands for Individualized Education Program (or sometimes Plan), is a protocol for students with learning and other disabilities, mental health conditions like ADHD, and special education needs who struggle in school and need more individualized attention. The plans typically lay out the student's strengths and weaknesses and design a curriculum around them, often with extensive parental involvement.




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In their conversation, Woolley joked about how the students she has that are on IEPs are "barely qualified" for the program, mocking their intelligence. She went on to detail how they often lie to their parents. "I'll talk to the parents and be like... they have a study guide... they have this I send home,'" Woolley said, "and the parents just go, 'really?' They death stare their child."

Those comments could be construed as teachers simply blowing off steam, of course. But Woolley also laughed along when panelist Devin Siebold actually said the quiet part out loud. "The best part is when you get to talk crap about the kid and the kid's there because you could be like, 'this kid is D-U-M-B,' and I would be worried about him knowing what I'm saying," Siebold joked. "But he can't spell."


Photo: TikTok

After an uproar ensued, Woolley issued an apology on TikTok.

Woolley's and her co-host's comments sparked an angry response from many online who were outraged by their comments' ableism. Working with special needs kids is surely frustrating in many ways, but the kinds of students on IEPs often evade their schoolwork for myriad reasons ranging from anxiety to the fear of being mocked as stupid—like the teachers on "Teachers Off Duty" proceeded to do publicly on a readily available online podcast.

It's a pretty shocking move on the teachers' parts on multiple levels. And Woolley's subsequent apology only made things worse.


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"I really try my best to be the best person that I can possibly be," Woolley said in her apology. "I try to advocate for everyone, I try to be there for everyone. But I also know that I'm human and I make mistakes, and I'm not perfect."

She then addressed the "Teachers Off Duty" comments in question. "After listening to it myself, I'm also offended by it. Regardless of the context or the intention behind what was said, something that I said hurt people, and hurting people is never okay with me. I want to sincerely apologize to the people that I hurt."


She then disavowed the comments and chalked them up to not being sufficiently "careful" about her remarks. "That clip does not encapsulate my feelings on that subject...and I want you to know that moving forward, I will be a million percent more careful of how I say things or what I say, and that it is never my intention to hurt anyone."

The producers of the podcast itself also issued an apology, calling the jokes "in poor taste" and "wrong," and thanked people for calling them out. That apology has gone over far better than Woolley's has.

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Lauran Woolley's apology for her 'Teachers Off Duty' podcast comments has been heavily criticized online.

Woolley's apology was insufficient to a seeming majority of angry commenters online, who felt it was insincere and was only made because she was doxxed amid the uproar, with the name and location of the school that employs her being posted online. 

"I got called out and I must apologize to keep my job vibes," one person wrote, while another said, "It sounds like she wrote this on ChatGPT." One person simply wrote, "I don't believe you." And another pointed out that Woolley failed to lay out what was actually wrong with her comments. "Could you provide some info on what you understand to be wrong about what you said?," the person commented. 

Others questioned what Woolley was doing to rectify the situation with the actual students with disabilities she works with. "If [you're] still teaching, how are [you] handling this IRL with your disabled students & parents?" a woman asked, while others flatly demanded Woolley be fired. "The teachers involved should NEVER work with children again, let alone kids with IEPs," a woman angrily commented. 

Siebold's apology has also gone over poorly. He blamed the flap on editing that took his "D-U-M-B" joke out of context and made it seem like it was about children with IEPs, which he says it wasn't. That explanation hasn't sat well with many people online, however, who feel it was inappropriate in any case.


Photo: TikTok

Teaching is an incredibly difficult job and it's understandable that teachers would need to air their frustrations now and then. But stuff like this? It's probably better off left in the big "drafts" folder inside our heads.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.