Former Valley teacher featured in documentary about cyberbullying

Posted at 10:34 PM, May 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-24 01:34:19-04

Desert Vista High School is getting national attention again after a former teacher was featured in the Showtime documentary series "Dark Net."

Dr. Cicely Cobb was profiled in an episode titled "Trouble Brewing."

In it, the episode details a series of cyber bullying incidents, name calling and even stalking by her students and their friends--even off of school campus.

"I will say it has been very surreal to watch this, I have not watch this since it aired," said Dr. Cobb.

Online video posted by students shows one appearing to turn in a paper to Cobb by placing it on her head.

Dr. Cobb says it was just one example of the disrespect that occurred almost daily at Desert Vista.

"I really had to calm myself down, because to see how these kids stalked me. I knew about the cyberbullying. But the stalking was what was so disturbing," said Dr. Cobb.

Dr. Cobb says she brought concerns and complaints to school leadership and to Tempe Union High School District officials, but it went nowhere.

Dr. Cobb's contract was not renewed after the 2014 school year.

She says her treatment was racially motivated.

"Had this been a Caucasian teacher in the community, and this was an African-American student that had trolled her like this, that student would have been expelled," said Dr. Cobb.

She filed a lawsuit and lost.

A court ruled her claims "frivolous and completely without merit" and she was ordered to pay the school district more than $215,000 in legal fees.

The Tempe Union High School District released a statement regarding Dr. Cobb's claims:

Dr. Cobb was hired as a teacher at Desert Vista High School, and worked at the school during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years. The District, unfortunately, was compelled to recommend to the District Governing Board that Dr. Cobb’s teaching contract not be renewed. Dr. Cobb engaged in behaviors towards students, parents and administrators that made her unfit to continue as a teacher with the District, including leaving her classes unattended, berating students, making racially insensitive remarks towards teachers and administrators, and failing to follow instructions to give students timely feedback on their course work.

Dr. Cobb filed a lawsuit against the District claiming that the District discriminated against her and retaliated against her. Because Dr. Cobb’s lawsuit deals with education and employment records that are protected by law, the case details are under seal and the District cannot discuss those matters in detail. 

The District, however, received a judgment from the United States District Court, dismissing all of Dr. Cobb’s claims. The Court ruled in the District’s favor on each of Dr. Cobb’s charges, and determined that a trial in the case was not necessary. In addition, the Court determined that Dr. Cobb’s allegations were so frivolous and lacking in merit that the District was awarded $215,743.25 in attorney’s fees, paralegal fees, and costs against Dr. Cobb.

In every instance where a student engages in inappropriate conduct, the District investigates and takes action to address the situation. The District took steps to investigate and address all matters raised by Dr. Cobb during her employment with the District. The District treated Dr. Cobb fairly, and did not discriminate against her. The District strives to be fair with all of its employees, and the District is pleased that the United States District Court found that Dr. Cobb’s allegations of race discrimination and retaliation were completely without merit.