4th Grade Teacher Fired After A ‘Difficult’ Student Complained That He Threw A Marker At Her

"You lost a good teacher. You lost someone who cared about kids in a world of people who don't."

exasperated teacher halfpoint / Canva Pro

Teaching has never been an easy profession, but in recent years it seems to have become nearly impossible for all too many —and we have the crippling national teacher shortage to prove it.

For one 4th-grade teacher, the past school year has been a test of his ability to continue in the profession. Now, just four weeks shy of summer break, he's gotten confirmation that it is time to move on in the form of an incident that feels a lot like a sign of the times when it comes to relations between students, teachers, and parents. 


The teacher was fired after a difficult student complained he threw a marker at her.

TikToker and teacher PeJay Eugene had a difficult school year, to say the least, with an even more difficult ending. "Yesterday, I was fired from my fourth-grade math and science elementary school position as a teacher," he said in a TikTok in which he hoped to "clear up my name."

@pejayeugene I pray my students have a peaceful transition! I’m BLESSED EITHER WAY! #teachersoftiktok #teachershortage #teacherfired #fyp #teachertok #viralteacher ♬ original sound - PeJay Eugene

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Eugene said he was fired following an investigation into an incident in which a student accused him of throwing a marker at her in a moment of frustration. 

But he feels like the claim is part of a wider effort. "I would know if I was 10 toes down in the wrong," he said of the incident. " I feel like there is just some major bias with the termination."

The incident was part of a common, joking way he got his students' attention during class.

"I got a call from HR at the end of the school day and they said check your email, you're gonna be on a paid leave for a pending investigation for unprofessional conduct in the classroom," Eugene said. "I was told that a student said that I threw a marker at them, and… the guardian went up to school to report me."

But Eugene said this claim is wildly overblown. For the entire school year, he has used a marker to get disruptive or talkative students' attention during lessons.

@iammemori Day 2 of the school year! 😏 Students: “This one hits!” Me: Chiillleeeee 😂🤦🏾‍♀️ #teachersoftiktok #elementaryschool #teacher ♬ original sound - iammemori

"I will take a marker, I will not throw it. I will toss it at the desk," he said. "We all laugh and the student would typically grab the marker and walk it back up to me." It's a light-hearted way of getting the kids' attention that he said he used all school year with no issues. Until now.

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The complaint came from a parent who Eugene said 'has been coming after me' all year, even though they've never met.

Eugene was shocked when he was sent home the day of the incident because he was told, "The student's parent is on the way up here to basically get at you because they heard that you threw a marker at their student."


The student had already left for the day, so he was unable to discuss it with her. According to Eugene, the parent "has been coming after me the entire school year," despite the fact that they had never even met.

"I have never talked to her face to face, not one time this entire school year," he said. "She has refused to come to any parent-teacher conferences; she has refused to respond to any of my… messages. So even if there was an issue, I could not resolve it."

Instead, he said the parent would go behind his back to other teachers and staff and make accusations based on what he thought was "a predetermined bias" against him because he is a gay, Black male. 


frustrated teacher bobbieo / Getty Images Signature / Canva

He said he received similar threats and attacks from parents on his TikTok channel as well, who feel it is inappropriate for him to be teaching children given his identity.

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Eugene has taken the incident as a sign that it is time for him to leave the teaching profession. 

Threats and conflicts of various kinds from both students and teachers are on a shocking upswing in America. A survey by the American Psychological Association found that one-third had been threatened by a student, and 29% had been threatened by a parent.

@yourtango A parent demanded an apology when a teacher used classroom time to name her puppy #teachertok #school #puppy #dogsoftiktok #reddit ♬ original sound - YourTango

And these threats are escalating to actual attacks on teachers — sometimes in the form of physical violence — more and more often as well. That's on top of the constant political attacks by legislators and activists, including those who show up at schools and school board meetings to verbally attack educators.

It is among several factors fueling wave after wave of teacher resignations


A 2023 study found one in three teachers plans to leave the profession by 2025. A resulting teacher shortage is already crippling America's education system — and only getting worse, as districts nationwide address budget shortfalls by laying off already stretched-thin teachers.

Eugene's experience is a perfect example of this absolute mess. "I've had full-blown students hit me this school year," he said, "and I was told by leadership to call them and tell them I'm sorry."

This was Eugene's sixth year as a teacher after already having taken a year off because of how difficult the job had become. "I came back because somebody said 'You have a natural talent for teaching'... I came back to give back because I love kids," he said, adding that he wanted to help lead and inspire Black children in particular.


Now, those students have a random substitute in their classroom, and Eugene said he is forbidden from responding to the flood of messages he's received from kids wondering why he's gone.

He calls the experience "a wake-up call" after a school year he had already decided would be a make-or-break sign of whether he should continue teaching or find a different career. Two job offers received the very day of his firing have joined with everything else to make it clear it's time to do the latter.


exhausted teacher Prostock-studio / Canva Pro

"I'm done," he said. "You lost a good teacher; you lost someone who gave a [expletive] about kids in a world of people who don't."

And as always, when parents and politicians villainize and attack teachers, it's the students Eugene was so passionate about serving who end up suffering the most.


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