Can someone explain why teachers would duct-tape students to a chair or tape over their mouths? Or lock students in a closet?
A Cherokee high school teacher pleaded guilty to false imprisonment today for duct-taping an autistic boy to a chair and confining a blind girl under a desk. The former Woodstock High teacher was sentenced to six years of probation and $2,000 in fines. The crimes occurred in 2008.
I get a lot of folks e-mailing me stories from around the country about similar crimes and am puzzled why this still occurs. As someone who had 12 years of tough nuns, I never saw more than a ruler whack now and then. (Yes, sometimes it was me whose hand was whacked. I was one of those jump-up-and-down kids when I knew an answer and could get carried away with my hand waving.)
These discipline methods fall into the category of professional suicide as there is simply no way to defend them. And I know that teachers are aware that these behaviors are unacceptable and will get them in trouble.
I was surprised to hear Michelle Rhee say that she put little bits of masking tape over the mouths of her students once to quiet them as they walked to lunch. In sharing her first-year learning curve as a new teacher, Rhee admitted that she lacked classroom management skills. On a day when her children were rowdy, a desperate Rhee says she told the class to please be quiet on the way to the cafeteria. And then she put the tape on their lips, presenting it as a “keep quiet” game. But when Rhee told them to pull the tape off, she had 35 crying children. She never told them, she said, to lick their lips first so the tape would come off with ease.
(Speaking of Rhee, she has an op-ed in today’s AJC where she reiterates her objections to layoff policies that protect seniority.)
Getting back to the local story, if any teachers can explain what would drive a colleague to these actions, please share it on the blog.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog