Posted by Maria Mangicaro
Bullying Prevention Advocate
Uploaded on Jan 19, 2011
Controversy splits town as some question if teacher’s actions went too far. For more, click here: http://abcnews.go.com/US/teacher-leav…
Second-grade teacher Elaine Brown was put on paid leave after warning the local sheriff that one of her seven-year-old students is violent.
“This child has a history of choking, kicking in the groin, and pushing on monkey bars to fall down,” said Terri Worthington-Pack, a parent at Oakhurst Elementary School who volunteers on the playground.
Brown said she saw her student hit another second grader at lunchtime.
“[He] left a bruise on the side of his face. And to my knowledge he was never suspended for that. And I don’t know if he was even talked to about that situation,” said Brown.
Brown told her students that if they felt they needed to tell someone about inappropriate behavior, they could come to her.
“One by one they came over to me and I documented different things. … I couldn’t write fast enough for what was pouring out of their hearts,” said Brown.
Brown talked to each child privately and wrote down their stories of physical and emotional abuse. The stories included things like, “He spit on [so-and-so,]” “He always shoves me,” “He threatened [so-and-so] with his fist,” “He was going to bring a real gun to school,” and “[He] told [so-and-so] that he was going to kill him with a gun.”
The gun threats made Brown truly alarmed for her students’ safety. The 15-year teaching veteran brought her concerns to parents, the school district, and then the principal. Brown said officials failed to act fast enough. Two days later, she called the sheriff’s office.
“I did go to law enforcement to see if I can try to get a restraining order. But I found out that you cannot do restraining order with children. The very next day, I received a letter of reprimand in my e-mail box,” said Brown.
Did Brown Violate the Student’s Privacy?
Brown was put on paid leave for five weeks and counting, while her conduct is under investigation. Did she violate the student’s privacy?
The school district declined to talk on camera to ABC News, citing privacy, but in a statement, said, “We have had an anti-bullying and harassment policy in place for a number of years, and when the steps in this policy are followed correctly, we have been successful in addressing these types of issues very successfully.”
Parents’ frustrations flooded out in an open school board meeting, with most defending the teacher.
“When a child is so scared to go to school and says that a child threatened him with being shot, and two other children confirm that, who makes that up? I’m sure some things are exaggerated, some things are made up, but some things are really true. And the things that are really true are really scary. And we don’t want it to escalate. We want to stop it now,” parent Worthington-Pack told ABC News.
In response, Oakhurst elementary school held a school-wide anti-bullying assembly. All the other teachers issued a statement praising the school and the principal, saying, “There are always two sides to a story, and we ask that you seek out the facts before making assumptions.”
School violence experts say the controversy shouldn’t obscure the fact that schools need to act aggressively on the issue. Click here to read more.