TULSA, Okla. — A mother is speaking out after she says a substitute teacher hit her daughter and other students with a ruler. But the school said it was just a tap to get their attention.
Debbie Robertson’s daughter is in second grade at Dove School of Discovery in Tulsa. She said she was shocked when her daughter came home from school one day last fall and said her substitute teacher hit her with a ruler.
“He was going around and he was using a ruler and he was smacking the desks and yelling at them," Robertson said. "And then he was also hitting them on their shoulder, on their leg, the top of their leg, and their back. Popping them with the ruler.”
The school's principal, Benjamin Falcon, said the sub was new to the school. When they investigated the complaint, the sub told them he was trying to get the students to pay attention and focus.
“He said, 'Since I’m new and I don’t know each student, each child’s name, I just wanted to remind them by tapping their table or tapping them on the shoulder,'" Falcon said.
Falcon said the sub is no longer allowed to teach in that class and was given training, but he was allowed to substitute in other classes at the school. Then, earlier this week, the school needed an emergency sub, and he was placed back in that second-grade class.
“The substitute teacher immediately withdrew himself," Falcon said. "[He said] 'I should not be in this classroom. I was instructed by the principal at the beginning of this school year.' And then she says, 'Okay, until I find a second substitute teacher, can you just stay here?'”
The school says the sub was only in the class for about 10 minutes before being replaced and was not left alone with the students. Robertson said her daughter told her that when the sub was back in her class this week, he brought up the previous incident.
“During that time that he was in there, he had confronted her and put his hand on her shoulder and said, 'This is the one that made it where I can’t come in this class,'” Robertson said.
Falcon said the sub will no longer teach at the school and was placed at a different campus. He also said their students are their top priority.
“The safety of our children and well-being of them is the utmost importance," Falcon said. "That’s why we give training to our teachers, not only substitutes."
Robertson said that’s not enough. She wants to make sure this doesn’t happen to students anywhere else.
“Children, sometimes, school is the only happy place that they’ve got and they should feel safe there all day long," she said.
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