“Shocking” punishment puts principal under fire

The principal at Beaver Ridge Elementary in Gwinnett is accused of ordering a student to shock himself with a toy the boy brought to class.

When the boy was sent to the office for bringing the low current pen to school, Principal Esther Adames-Jimenez made the boy shock himself with the toy, according to school officials.

District leaders learned of the incident after the school staff reported it.

Supposedly the principal wanted to teach the student a lesson. Do you think she went too far?

The story explains this isn’t the first time the principal used questionable judgment. Gwinnett human resources officials investigated her last school year over concerns she mishandled exams.

She was placed on paid administrative leave from another system in 1999 over allegation that she disciplined a 4-year-old who bit classmates by holding that student down so his victims could bite him back. The principal called the allegations false.

The principal won’t be back next year but she will be allowed to remain at the school until this year ends. The district has placed a second principal at the school to shadow Adames-Jimenez for the rest of the year.

If the district doesn’t trust the principal to be the only leader at the school, why are they letting her finish out the year?

UPDATE: Wednesday’s story says parents are split on the discipline Adames-Jimenez handed down.

38 comments Add your comment

jim d

March 31st, 2009
9:45 am

Jimenez should have been fired a year ago when she screwed up. Well actually with her record she should never have been hired. Oh Well–Napoalvin strikes again, hiring people that are un-hireable just because they won’t question his actions.

I’m tellin you folks in Gwinnett that as long as you refuse to unelect some of your BOE members this mediocrity in education will continue and even worsen. Think about your kids future the next time you step upto a voting machine!!

Teacher, Too

March 31st, 2009
10:00 am

Why did the boy have the pen at school to begin with? Was he shocking other students with it? If the child intentionally shocked other students with the pen, knowing that it would shock them, then it seems that the punishment fits the crime. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t give that information.

However, if that’s not the case and the boy just had the pen at school and was minding his own business, then the principal was out of line. I also agree with jim d– this principal has a history of poor judgement. Why was she even hired?

William Casey

March 31st, 2009
10:38 am

For those of us not in Gwinnett, what was the principal’s previous poor judgement?

jim d

March 31st, 2009
10:44 am

teacher too,

Watch this one rapidly become parents fault!! LOL

jim d

March 31st, 2009
10:52 am

Will,

She was placed on paid administrative leave from East Boston Early Education Center in 1999 amid allegations that she disciplined a 4-year-old who bit classmates by holding that student down so his victims could bite him back. She was allowed back with no disciplinary action but then sued by the childs parents, for assult, with whom she settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of cash.

Last year she was reprimanded for losing testing documents during a national test administration at Beaver ridge.

I have a problem with her remaining employed by the county for the rest of the school year since I know Ms. Dominy’s ability to step in and run the school.

DB

March 31st, 2009
11:43 am

There’s two different things going on here: Questionable judgement on the part of the principal, and poor judgement on the part of the kid. Okaaay, yeah, it probably wasn’t a great move on the part of the principal. On the other hand, I sincerely doubt it actually hurt the kid, and let’s face it, the kid had probably shocked himself several times before just for the fun of it, anyway. He brought the pen to school obviously with the intention of mischief — imagine what would have happened if he had used it on a kid with a pacemaker. So, yeah, the kid needs to be disciplined. Does he require tons of money, counseling and a court case for assault? Hell, no. The parents ought to be embarrassed that their little darling snuck the offending shock pen to school in the first place, and if they’re smart, they’ll throw the pen away, ground him for a week, and shut up about it.

The bigger question is: Why was the principal even hired in the first place? Apparently, because she’s Hispanic and pretty good at working with multi-lingual kids, which she’s being doing for years. Settling out of court is, unfortuately, almost always seen as an admission of guilt, although we don’t know if the school’s insurance company elected to settle out of court to simply to avoid the possibility of an adverse court decision. She was cleared of wrongdoing in Boston, and ended up staying at that school for an additional five years, before moving on to open a new multi-lingual high school in Boston. The “testing irregularity” consisted of losing an administrator’s manual for the ACCESS test, an ESL-style test, for which she received a “letter of direction”, which is basically a “don’t do that” sort of letter that the BOE uses to cover its butt.

So before we all go off the deep end condeming everyone in sight, let’s keep this in perspective.

jim d

March 31st, 2009
11:56 am

DB,

If the system truly did trust she was doing the job they had a couple of other options.

1) refuse to accept her resignation holding her to her contract.

2) not placing a shadow.

3) can her now.

I fear they place taxpayers in Gwinnett at real risk of litigation for negligence should anything else happen before she leaves. I vote for #3

Nemisis

March 31st, 2009
11:58 am

Posted by jim d:

“teacher too,

Watch this one rapidly become parents fault!! LOL”

Well skippy the child did bring an unauthorized toy to school didn’t he? Do parents even check their childrens bookbag anymore or do we push everything off on the teachers? I feel your pain though about the dimwits yall have in Gwinnett.

jim d

March 31st, 2009
12:11 pm

Nemisis,

Well Sooky, I doubt any parent empties their kids book bag daily. Hell I can’t even lift most of them. ;)

DB

March 31st, 2009
12:12 pm

jim d, you and I both know that the BOE has to make an appearance of doing “something”, just to keep the ACLU off their backs, especially now that it’s hit the AJC. She’s been in education for over 25 years — heck, she might be getting tired of all this crapola. If they tried to can her at this point, with three months to go on her contract, she could wrap them up in an investigation and wrongful termination investigation that would cost them some serious money – so yeah, there are some litigation concerns, but probably not the ones you’re thinking about. Remember, the kid is the one that brought the pen to school — it’s not like she keeps a taser in her desk to use on recalcitrant children. First rule of using any sort of “weapon”: be careful, it can just as easily be used against you!

It’s all about the money, honey :-) So the BOE sticks a babysitter in to shut everyone up, and she will probably not renew her contract, everyone is happy, la la la.

Roberta

March 31st, 2009
12:12 pm

Mrs. Esther got exactly what she deserved. I haven’t seen the video but to have protestors outside your school while students should be learning is a distraction and a disgrace. Mrs. Esther lead her career by the sword, and as they saying goes “live by the sword, die by the sword”, and in this case the pen was mightier.

This story has legs and I doubt it is over.

Lee

March 31st, 2009
12:16 pm

Reading between the lines, a several issues here:

1) This lady worked out of state until ~2005 or so. Why, with 20,000+ employees, does Gwinnett feel compelled to make a new hire a principal? That’s just a slap in the face of every teacher and AP who is line for a principal’s job.

2) If hiring someone off the street and for a principal’s position isn’t bad enough, we find out she had some “issues” at her former school, which, by the way, wound up in court. Don’t y’all do background checks?

3) This lady finally resigned and the system is going to leave her at the school but with a “shadow”????!!! Bullcrap. That’s another lawsuit just waiting to happen. Pull her butt to central office and give her a mop and broom to pass the time of day with, if you have to, but get her out of the school.

When you read stories such as this, is it any wonder that a significant number of folks have lost faith in the public education system?

jim d

March 31st, 2009
12:19 pm

DB,

I, like Roberta, fear we haven’t heard the last of this one. This could end up costing some serious jack (which the amount will be kept confidential)paid to the parents of this child. This women could still get in trouble. I know Dominy and will assure you she will not be shadowing to the bathroom.

jim d

March 31st, 2009
12:26 pm

Private school guy

March 31st, 2009
12:34 pm

The incident sounds dreadful but does not add up. What exactly did the kid bring to school? A gag pen thats like a joy buzzer of sorts, a malfunctioning electirc pen or what? I have kids shocking eavh other every winter with static electricity I fear for nearby computers more than for the children when this happens.

Joy Young

March 31st, 2009
12:56 pm

This is not a dangerous pen and can be purchased at any dollar store. Many kids get them and play with them. Calm down folks and don’t be so quick to call for someone’s resignation, especially if you don’t know ALL the facts.

DB

March 31st, 2009
1:43 pm

She was cleared in Boston, and served for another five years at the same school, and then went on to be a principal at a Boston high school before she came here. The schools that she worked at in Boston were schools with high Hispanic populations, and she specialized in teaching to multi-lingual populations, which is why Gwinett probably brought her in to Beaver Ridge. I’m sure Gwinnett DID do a background check — which would have shown that she had been cleared. So according to you folks, ANY kind of accusation must be true? And even if someone is cleared, it’s still true? Wow. Frankly, losing a testing manual is annoying, but not the end of the world. I’ve proctored and administered AP exams for years, where the security is extra-tight — but the administration manuals were always available to test administrators to take home and review prior to exams, so that they knew exactly what to expect and how to administer the exam — and there weren’t any questions or answers in it. Let’s face it, guys, kids being tested in Access aren’t going to get much out of an administrator’s manual, anyway. Have you seen the WIDA website, for the ACCESS administration requirements? Frankly, from the sound of it, it sounds like Gwinnett didn’t do a great job in training teachers and administrators on the exam administration.

It cuts both ways, guys — if you think Gwinnett education is abysmal, I think it’s likely that teachers and administrators from other parts of the country, once they get to Gwinnett (heck, Gwinnett isn’t alone in that, I wonder if Clayton has had any new hires recently!), probably wonder what in the hell they’ve landed in, and are just as anxious to get the heck out of Dodge.

If those parents get one thin dime for their miscreant child, then life is VERY unfair!

DB

March 31st, 2009
1:53 pm

First post disappeared — RATS! To Lee: In your book, apparently, someone is guilty if accused, never mind that they are subsequently cleared. She was cleared in Boston, and went on to teach for another five years at the same school, and went on to teach at a high school. Gwinnett probably hired her because her experience was in schools with high Hispanic populations and in designing programming aimed at ESL kids. So, if they are EVER accused of anything, according to you, they should just pack it up and worked at Burger King, because they are not fit to teach? Even if they are cleared?

The ACCESS test manual going missing is annoying, but it isn’t exactly the end of the world. I’ve been administering and proctoring AP exams for several years, and we all take the test administrator’s book home to study, to make sure we understand the timing nuances and what is and is not permitted. No one reading the test administator’s manual is going to have an edge on the test. I’d say Gwinnett probably messed up on this, too, because the WIDA site for the ACCESS test is very specific re: training requirements, etc., and it doesn’t sound like Gwinnett did a very good job of enforcing those requirements until after the fact — surprise, surprise. The ACCESS exam requirements are FAR more demanding than AP exam administration, with, to my mind, far less riding on it.

Educator

March 31st, 2009
2:55 pm

He little darling was more than likey a repeat offender and sometimes it takes extreme measures to get through their little thick heads that not everyone likes to be shocked, no matter how funny it is to the shocker. I like what she did, he taught him a lesson. Little s#%t deserved it.

Lee

March 31st, 2009
2:58 pm

DB;

“The mother of the disciplined student, however, filed a civil lawsuit against Adames-Jimenez and the Boston school in June 2000 alleging assault. The case was settled for an undisclosed sum in August 2001.”

Settling out of court is a bit different than being CLEARED. You settle out of court because a) your lawyer thinks there is a high probability of losing or b) the cost to litigate is prohibitive.

My guess, her lawyer considered the probablility of getting a jury loaded with parents and then having the picture painted of an ADULT in authority holding a screaming, kicking child down while another child bit him.

You folks in education wonder why people don’t treat you as “professionals?”

Well, here you go…..

Ernest

March 31st, 2009
3:49 pm

Lee:

You said,

>>Settling out of court is a bit different than being CLEARED. You settle out of court because a) your lawyer thinks there is a high probability of losing or b) the cost to litigate is prohibitive.<<

It should not surprise you that for many government entities, option b is chosen more than they would care to admit.

DB

March 31st, 2009
3:54 pm

“Settling out of court”, as any lawyer will tell you, is the norm, rather than going to trial, especially a civil trial, and oftentimes, especially when insurance companies get involved (I am sure the Boston city school district has an insurance company that insures against incidents such as this), the insurance companies HATE to go to trial, EVER, and will happily pay $10K or $20K just to save the lawyer’s fees, and the teacher has no say in the matter. The only thing she probably signed was a settlement agreement which probably had the standard clause of “this is not a confession of guilt” in it. Any idiot can file a civil suit. There was no criminal suit, which would have been appropriate in the case of assault and abuse, especially of a teacher against a student. She was cleared by Boston schools — the incident happened in 1999, and she stayed at Boston Early Education school until 2003, when she became headmaster at Boston International High School.

It doesn’t really matter, though — she’s washed her hands of Gwinnett, and I can’t say that I blame her. What does this teach the kids? That there are no consquences for their actions, and if they yell loud enough, someone will always feel sorry for them.

ScienceTeacher671

March 31st, 2009
6:16 pm

I have one of these pens…took it from a student a few years ago because it was a distraction in class. It has a AAA battery and delivers about the same shock you get putting your mouth on a transistor battery – not much.

Stupid case. It’s not like a kid who had the pen wouldn’t have shocked himself with it already, either accidentally or on purpose – and I’m sure he had it there to shock his classmates. Why bring it to school otherwise?

Chris

March 31st, 2009
7:53 pm

Damn Mexicans.

Tony

March 31st, 2009
8:16 pm

Why did the kid have such a gadget at school? If he shocked others, it is reasonable that he should know what it feels like. Making a federal case against the principal is a bit out of proportion. The kid did something he shouldn’t have.

I do agree that this principal should not have been hired with baggage in her past. And, the folks in Gwinnett should pay attention to whom they elect.

Oh the horror

March 31st, 2009
8:47 pm

First we had Shock and Awe, now we have Shock and Ow. Where is the Coalition of the Willing to combat such evil? Oh the horror; the humanity of it all!

Bob

March 31st, 2009
9:03 pm

I have worked in a local middle school for years and have seen these pens brought to school many times. The kids shock themselves and their friends with these prank pens. I don’t know the princpal involved or condone her form of disipline, but it amazes me that parents and everyone else has such outrage that a kid had to hold the pen and do something he had probably done a 100 times before and most likely in front of his parents. Yes, the principal’s judgement was lacking but I hardly see the student as some innocent victim.

Heather

March 31st, 2009
9:08 pm

My daughter has attended Beaver Ridge since Kindergarten and she is now in the 3rd grade. In fact, she is in the class with the student who brought then pen to school. She was shocked with it and as well as some of her other classmates. I applaud what Mrs. Esther did and I would have done the same. If it were my child who brought the pen, I would completely back up Mrs. Esther’s punishment to my own. She is a fantastic principal and has taken that school from not meeting AYP to a Greatest Gains award winning school for at least the last two years. She is strict and expects a lot from the children but is also compassionate and motivating. She is in the busniess of educating children to be the best they can be, and she has been nothing short of a success in my eyes. It’s also worth noting that my daughter adores her.

I will be very disapppointed to see her go.

Benefit concert announcement

March 31st, 2009
9:26 pm

Please join U2, Bruce Springsteen, Sir Paul McCartney, Elton John, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent, and Jay-Z, along with guest hosts Will Smith and Sean Penn at the Georgia Dome April 27, 2009 for the Children’s Concert To End All Consequences.

Together, with your help, we can all become spineless.

Old Timer

March 31st, 2009
9:41 pm

Let’s look at this from outside the box. If the boy was shocking fellow students with it, then the principle did nothing wrong.

I believe that society has done a huge injustice to todays children. Now a days children are protected and parents, teachers, or any adult in a authority position cannot discipline children in todays world. It is truly sad that we got away from the old days of true discipline. Dont spank, put on restriction, make them pick out a switch and wear them out with it, my God thats mental and physical abuse and your butt will be playing spades with Michael Vick in the concrete jungle.

Time out?? OMG no wonder todays youth are unsuccessful pieces of crap. And then if someone does discipline a child, the state of Georgia really thinks DFACS is the answer. Get real DFACS is worthless and everyone they employee are uneducated idiots. Jim Martin could’nt fix DFACS and neither can the new head of human resources. Especially Cherokee County DFACS, they are really uneducated idiots. LAZY also.

Yes back in the day and today child abuse has exsisted and a child abuser should go to prison. But in todays world, you cannot even be a parent or teacher. It truly is very sad….

Cobb County Principal, Dr. Nancy DiPetrillo acted badly in a similar situation

March 31st, 2009
10:40 pm

Just this school year a 4th grade south Cobb County student shared a similar pen, which comes from joke shops such as the ones in the mall, during a class meeting. All of the students must clear a tangible item with the teacher prior to share time so that she could verify that the share item is appropriate. When it was the student’s turn he told his classmates where he got the pen and explained what it does. He then pressed the button himself to demonstrate. Each of the classmates had the opportunity to press the button too if they wanted to. Most of the 4th graders wanted to, and did! The class was sitting together on the floor and the teacher was right there directing the coversation. The principal of the school observed the meeting and some of the student’s parents happened to be present because they were invited by the school to watch these meetings. After the principal watched ALL OF the classmates have a turn to press the button she then jumped up and ranted at at the student, as well as the teacher, in the presence of the parents and the remainder of the class. THIS WAS AFTER SHE WITNESSED THE WHOLE CLASS TOUCH THE PEN. If the principal felt that it was truly a danger, shouldn’t she have stopped the share time?? Evidently she needed time to come to her senses. She shouted at the student who shared and advised him and the class that she had suspended students the previous year for bringing these pens to school. The principal then took the pen from the student in front of all of his peers,told him that a parent would need to come to get it from her, advised everyone that it was a school code violation (I couldn’t find one that matched), said that she would suspend anyone who brought similar items and left the classroom in a huff. All the while, an entire class of 9 year olds, several parents and one teacher watched, amazed. The student who shared was obviously embarrassed by the prinicpal in front of everyone. He clearly did not understand what he had done wrong. Presumably, he had cleared his share item with his teacher, as the other students are required to do. Even though the class meeting was not scheduled to end, ALL of the parents who witnessed the incident left abruptly. The parents spoke to each other outside the classroom. They felt that the principal was out of line to yell at the student and teacher for the incident because it was controlled. In this situation, the student had not harassed anyone with the pen. The parents were, in general, upset with the principal for behaving unprofessionally. The principal does not realize to this day that one of the parents is the spouse of an ACTIVE PTA member. Had she realized this beforehand she would have likely not behaved in such a manner so freely in front of parents and students. If a principl will behave in this manner in front of students, parent and teacher there is no telling what would happen without witnesses.

Momof2

March 31st, 2009
11:17 pm

So all this about a TOY? And the Principal caused the child to play with the toy as a punishment? And the Principal is being fired because she went “too far”?
I think what’s criminal here is the complete waste of time and tax dollars.
Get back to work on activities that are consistent with the purpose of schools.
This story belongs in ‘News of the Weird”.

jim d

April 1st, 2009
7:22 am

momof2,

Let me point out a few facts from the article that many of you are overlooking

Adames-Jimenez “resigned” during the investigation. She was not fired.

Should she have? Well i don’t know, but one would think that had she not felt she had done anything that might have gotten her canned, she would have rode this storm out.

The other thing is that it was not a parent or the child that reported the alleged abuse–it was someone within her office.

I’ll give you that this person may have had ulterior motives, or just been an Alvin stooge but on the other hand they may have truly seen this event as abusive.

Knowing how Alvin reacts in most situations (based on long time observations) I can just about quarantee that he was just looking for an excuse to encourage her resignation. Perhaps to place her in the central office with some bogus title and salary increase in reward for her having brought Beaver Ridge test scores up. Or perhaps because she had done some piddly little something without his stamp of approval. He has been known to hold a grudge towards anyone that does anything productive that he fails to get credit for.

jim d

April 1st, 2009
7:37 am

Leaving a six figure position in this economy warrants doing so only if one is independently wealthy, they have another position waiting or one knows they are about to be fired anyway.

Lee

April 1st, 2009
7:57 am

Jim D brings up another interesting point. This principal worked out of state until about 2005. If she only worked in Ga for 3 years, how in the world does she make $111,000? Does Ga’s salary schedule recognize out of state experience?

Getting back to my original post, with 20,000+ employees, Gwinnett should not have to hire off the street for administrative positions. When you bring someone in and place them above another employee who was in line for the postion, you create disharmony in the workforce. Calls to central office to report “inappropriate discipline” measures is a end result of this discord in the workplace.

jim d

April 1st, 2009
8:04 am

Lee in Gwinnett as I understand the salary schedule for a principal they draw a 6 figure base salary with bonus’s amounting to $7 and change per enrolled student (based on an anytime highest enrollment)

Hope that helps.

jim d

April 1st, 2009
8:14 am

Gwinnett Parent

April 1st, 2009
9:37 am

The principal should be fired for being an idiot. The school board needs to be penalized for keeping her. This is where a business background or some graduate level HR classes would have been useful. Those of us in the business world know to CYA and have learned to use common sense. It is evident that there are a lot of principals that do not know when to pass the buck and send the kid home, keep their teachers from being harrassed or assaulted by the students, when to shut up, or when to report crimes to the police. Several principals are walking lawsuits waiting to happen. In the “corporate world” this principal would have lost her job the first time. Also, some of the teachers need to wise up and learn when they can sue for harrassment or a hostile working environment. If our principals had a business background in addition to their teaching experience, a lot of things would not be swept under the rug.