A teacher in Henry County, Georgia, was charged with battery this week, following an incident in which she allegedly pulled a 14-year-old girl’s hair.
Back in January, Henry County Middle School science teacher Tracy Parham refused eighth grader Sequoia McMillian’s request to go to the restroom for an emergency, according to WSB-TV. McMillian later got permission from another teacher, and upon returning to the classroom, she said Parham pulled her braids from behind.
“My neck snapped all the way back,” McMillian told WSB-TV.
Parham told school officials a different version of events. When Sequoia’s mother, Latrice McMillian, spoke to the assistant principal, she was told that the teacher claimed her hand “got tangled up in Sequoia’s hair when she was trying to block her from walking in the doorway because she snuck out of her class to go to the bathroom,” McMillian told Fox 5 Atlanta.
The school’s security cameras caught the whole incident on video, however, and McMillian said it did not look like an accident to her, nor to the school resource officer who filed the battery charges, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. A magistrate judge who saw the video also found cause to issue an arrest warrant for Parham.
After this happened in January, administrators placed Sequoia in the library to separate her from the teacher. McMillian said she took her daughter out of the school because it felt like she was being punished and isolated, instead of her teacher.
“I feel like teachers, people who work at the school system should have patience,” McMillian told Fox 5. “If you don’t have patience that’s not the place for you.”
Other teachers have come under fire for grabbing students hair in apparent anger. Earlier this month, a Jacksonville, Florida, teacher was caught on camera pulling a girl’s hair during a fight over a laptop.
Last year, South Carolina teacher Lisa Houston went viral when she stood on a sleeping student’s desk, patted his cheek, put her foot on his chest, and pulled his hair to get his attention. She was initially forced to retire, but when students and parents, including the boy in the video, said they wanted Houston back in the schools, the district eventually reversed its decision.
The debate over whether teachers can use physical forms of punishment on students is as old as the public school system itself. While some states still allow corporal punishment, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other organizations have stated such forms of discipline do more harm than good.
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