My final blog about teachers bullying their students, while not as disturbing as the previous two incidents I have told you about, nonetheless points to a disrespectful and publicly humiliating attitude some school employees have towards disciplining students. Due to the public manner in which this situation occurred, it could be considered bullying or harassing.
On September 21, a paraprofessional at Whitehead Road Elementary School in Athens, Georgia made a very poor choice when disciplining a boisterous student. Apparently, a girl in this kindergarten classroom would not quiet down, so the paraprofessional put clear packaging tape over her mouth to keep her quiet. In spite of the fact that it didn’t stay on for long, because the little girl reportedly removed it seconds after it was placed on her mouth, the damage was already done.
The classroom teacher was working with a small group of students in the room at the time and did not actually witness the incident, but when made aware of what had transpired, reported it to the school’s administrator.
Philip Lanoue, Clark County Superintendent of Schools, told the Athens Banner-Herald that this sort of discipline is not permissible in their elementary schools. “This incident is counter to our philosophy and how we work with kids, and we will not tolerate it. Swift action will always be taken if there are any issues like this in our district,” Lanoue stated.
While the incident is disturbing, I am impressed that school officials truly did deal with what took place in a responsibly prompt manner. They immediately informed the child’s parents and told them what disciplinary actions had been taken.
School officials initially placed the paraprofessional on administrative leave pending an investigation. However, according to Anisa Sullivan Jimenez, a spokeswoman for the district, the aide is no longer employed with the Clarke County School District, although, due to privacy regulations, she would not elaborate on whether the aide resigned or was fired.
An interesting sidebar to this story is that the state of Georgia is one of only 19 states which still allow corporal punishment. However, that could be changing very soon due to a bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of New York. The intent of this bill is to ban “paddling, spanking, or other forms of physical punishment, however light, imposed upon a student.” If this bill should pass, states that refuse to do away with corporal punishment could lose federal funding for their schools.