A Watt Hardison Elementary School teacher in Portland, Tennessee has been suspended while officials investigate an accusation that she encouraged a third grader to punch a second grader in the face, twice.
As reported by WTVF NewsChannel 5, Brandie Dobson, the second grade victim’s mother, said that the educator’s surprising behavior stemmed from a school bus fight between her son and his friend on Thursday afternoon. Dobson told the station, “The little boy (third grader) had pushed him and hit his brother and cousin. So he hit him back.”
With the school principal out sick on Friday, Dobson alleges that Rebecca Cassel, her son’s teacher, decided to handle disciplinary measures herself. The mother says that Cassel took her son, his brother, and the third grader involved in the school bus fight, along with another teacher to serve as a witness, into an empty classroom. It was there that Dobson says, "She had told, told the little boy to hit my son. My understanding, he hit him. She didn't feel like it was good enough, so she had him hit him again in the face.”
To make matters worse, Dobson said she learned about the incident from her children and wasn’t notified by anyone at the school until days later. Ms. Dobson told WKRN News 2, “There’s two teachers in the classroom and someone could have notified me or the other teacher could have stopped it.” WKRN reports that they were unable to reach Ms. Cassel for comment.
Before the incident, the mother felt that Cassel, a teacher since 2008, was a great educator but now her trust has eroded. “He was scared to go back to school, but I told him, ‘It will be okay. Everything is fine,’” Ms. Dobson said. She wants the teacher arrested or fired for what took place saying, “I mean, she could do this to anyone else’s children. They shouldn't have to go through that.” According to reports, police say Cassel has been forthcoming with information and will not face criminal charges.
A district investigation began on Tuesday and Cassel is suspended until its completion. Jeremy Johnson, Sumner County School Board and Community Relations Supervisor, released the following statement:
“We intend to thoroughly investigate this matter to fully determine if this incident occurred and the circumstances surrounding it. If these allegations are indeed proven true by our investigation, our Director of Schools will take appropriate corrective action, as we will not tolerate this type of conduct within our school system.”
Earlier this year, a Florida teacher was fired after an investigation concluded that she was guilty of encouraging a group of eighth grade boys to beat up a seventh grader.
UPDATE May 8, 2014 11:32 AM PDT:
WTVF reports that, following the accusation that she instructed a student to punch another student, the teacher in question has resigned.