A gym teacher has lost his job as a result of playing Fortnite with his students.
According to a report from the New York Post, 29-year-old Brett Belsky, who taught at M.S. 890K in Brooklyn, New York, decided to engage his class in a short session of the popular video game after overhearing their chatter about Xbox games in January last year.
Having scribbled his ID, TheBelsky, on the board, he told the students that he would play a few games with them on the condition that they did well in class.
Upon hearing that, there was no choice but to excel. And when they did, the teacher held up his end of the deal by playing against two students, aged 11 and 12, for about 20 minutes. That did not go down well with the 11-year-old's father, who reported the matter to the school's principal the following day.
“As a teacher, you reach out the best you can. These kids talk about video games,” Belsky told the press this week. “I said, ‘If you can get this work done, maybe I’ll play against you.’
“I saw their eyebrows go up."
Belsky added that he had the kids get consent from their parents before playing them. Yet he was reassigned to a DOE rubber room, in April, while the matter was investigated. And he was ultimately relieved of his post.
“I never had a write-up in my eight years [of] teaching,” he declared thereafter.
The Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District oversaw the investigation and would recommend that the DOE amend their "Social Media Guidelines" to make it clear that teacher-student gaming is out of bounds.
“School employees shouldn’t interact with students online except for school-related reasons,” a DOE spokesman explained. “Mr. Belsky was terminated based on his overall performance, including a review of this case.”
Belsky admitted that he should have checked in with the school's administration before going ahead with his Fortnite quest. But he obviously felt that it was no big deal and he was doing some good at the time. He will appeal the decision later this month, despite having more Fortnite time on his hands.
“[Belsky’s union lawyer] told me, ‘It’s perception. It’s the impression. Without details or context, people can get the wrong impression,’” Belsky remarked.
“This game is insanely popular with them. I have to figure out a way to reach these kids, to get them to do their work,” he said. “I love what I do. I am a good teacher.”
While he did contravene the school's rules regarding online interaction, Belsky did mean well. Hopefully, the appeal board will see it that way and reinstate him as long as he promises not to offer Apex Legends sessions in exchange for good grades, regardless of how strong the temptation becomes.