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Skipping Class to Wrestle Teacher Lands in Trouble

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Guest Big Papi

Skipping Class to Wrestle, Teacher Lands in Trouble


Published: July 1, 2005


At Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in Queens, he was known as Matthew Kaye, an earnest social studies teacher shepherding his ninth- and 10th-grade students across the panorama of global history. But out of school - on the professional wrestling circuit - he was Matt Striker, a muscleman known for a move called the lung blower.


A New York high school teacher earned extra money as a pro wrestler, and the time he spent in the ring instead of in class cost him his job.

His double life may have body-slammed his teaching career.


According to city investigators, Mr. Kaye, 31, falsely called in sick for 11 days in December and February when he was actually on the wrestling tour. Faced with disciplinary action, Mr. Kaye resigned in April, but yesterday he said that he hoped to get his job back.


"There are people out there who touch children inappropriately who are still allowed to work," Mr. Kaye said in a telephone interview. "The only thing I did was I put in sick days instead of personal days, because I didn't know there was a difference."


But Richard J. Condon, the special commissioner of investigation for the city schools, said it was not that simple. Teachers get 10 sick days a year and only 3 of those can be used for personal business.


Investigators from Mr. Condon's office said a woman who identified herself as Mr. Kaye's mother called Cardozo in December and said that he was out because of a family emergency. Mr. Kaye later told an assistant principal at the school that his sister was ill.


Then Mr. Kaye was absent in February, when wrestling Web sites said that he appeared on the television show "SmackDown!" in a match against Kurt Angle.


Investigators sought to interview Mr. Kaye, but his lawyer canceled the session and Mr. Kaye resigned.


Mr. Kaye eventually provided two notes from doctors for his absences. But investigators questioned their validity and urged the state Health Department's Office of Professional Medical Conduct to investigate and take action.


In a letter to Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, Mr. Condon urged that Mr. Kaye be deemed ineligible for future employment in the schools and that the city demand to be repaid for the days he missed work. A spokesman for Mr. Klein, Keith Kalb, said, "This is outrageous behavior and we're going to pursue the recommendations."


Mr. Kaye said he was willing to repay the money and even accept a suspension if it meant he might get his job back.


Students, too, seem to want him back. Several posted messages of support, with some using computer shorthand, on his wrestling Web site, ThisIsStriker.com. "Thank you so much Mr. Kaye," one wrote. "The Global Regents were so easy!"


Another wrote: "When I see you in the future and you are that super superstar, I'll say, hey, that was my ninth-grade global teacher, the best teacher I ever had. They'll probably think I'm lying."


Randi Weingarten, the president of the city teachers' union, said the case underscored how little teachers are paid.


"Teachers frequently have second jobs or second careers because you just can't make it on a teacher's salary these days," she said.


Mr. Kaye said he was already looking for work at another school.


"If anyone out there now wants to hire a social studies teacher that can reach their kids," he said, "give me a chance."

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That seems shitty. Why are they so nosey? Yeah, he missed a lot of work, so he should be disciplined for that, however I can't understand all the investigative work to see why he really missed work. It's not that big of a deal.

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