Boys made to clean East Tenn. school rest room with toothbrushes; teacher suspended
Dec 19, 2012 at 1:40 PM
OLIVER SPRINGS (AP) — A Tennessee teacher has been suspended after school officials said she made about 20 eighth-grade boys use toothbrushes to scrub a rest room where graffiti had appeared.
According to The Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/T7375A ), two of the boys were taken to a hospital after other students sprayed them in the face with an industrial-strength solvent being used.
Anderson County Schools officials said Norwood Middle School teacher Darla Williams was placed on three days unpaid leave while an investigation was carried out. A school official said Williams was then put on personal leave.
Parent Jay Huckabey said Williams conducted the punishment at the end of the Nov. 29 school day and took cellphone pictures to taunt the students.
"I'm terribly disturbed," said Huckabey, who also said he took his son to a doctor the day after the incident because the boy complained his eyes were burning.
Anna M. Hurt, the county school system's human resources director, said school officials investigated the incident, including interviews with the students involved.
A letter placed in Williams' personnel file on Dec. 11 by Schools Director Larry M. Foster warned Williams that she could be dismissed "if additional infractions of this nature occur again."
In his letter, Foster noted previous conduct instances, stating, "the decision to invoke the suspension is due to the egregiousness of this incident and prior violations."
The letter stated Williams was previously insubordinate to her principal, had a verbal altercation with a parent, and had "inappropriate discussions" with students during instructional time.
Another parent of a boy who was sent to clean the rest room said he has never seen a school with the problems of Norwood Middle.
"What she (Williams) did to the eighth-grade class was unthinkable," said Jeff Palmer, father of one of the boys punished. "They were humiliated and bullied."
Williams, 48, is a tenured teacher.
Hurt said she passed on to Williams a newspaper request for comment. Williams did not respond.
Information from: The Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com