A complaint was filed with the State Board for Educator Certification, alleging that a teacher’s certification was subject to sanctions because she had dragged a student across a classroom floor. The teacher denied that she had dragged the student and requested a hearing before the State Office of Administrative Hearings.
At the hearing, evidence was introduced to show that the incident occurred at a time when the teacher’s first-grade class had been brought in to another teacher’s class to observe a performance rehearsal. During the rehearsal, there were approximately 40 students in a classroom that was normally occupied by 20 students. One student who was observing the performance was agitated and began screaming. The teacher who witnessed the incident testified that she had her back to the student while she worked with her class, which was in front of her, as they rehearsed. At some point, she turned around and saw the other teacher on the ground with the student. She testified that she did not see how the student had gotten out of her seat, but that the other teacher appeared to be dragging the student. She did not attempt to intervene and the student was ultimately retrieved when another teacher from across the hall heard the screaming and came to get her. The student went willingly with the other teacher and did not report any injury, nor did she accuse her teacher of dragging her. The class continued normally after this incident.
The teacher testified that she had not dragged the student. The student had thrown herself on the ground and began to kick at the teacher while scooting on the ground on her behind and screaming. She testified that what the other teacher had most likely seen was her attempting to hold the student’s legs down to prevent her from kicking while the student was scooting herself.
The evidence presented at the hearing showed that the student had a significant history of behavioral problems that included excessive screaming and violence toward other students and staff, such as throwing rocks and furniture. Multiple witnesses testified that other students were afraid of her. The teacher had never been accused of excessive use of force against a student before and multiple witnesses testified that she was a patient and kind teacher.
Conversely, evidence was also introduced at the hearing that the teacher who had observed the incident had approached two other teachers afterward and told them that she had observed something, but was unsure of exactly what she had seen. She also told these same teachers that a student had reported the incident, when in fact she had reported it.
Evidence was also introduced at hearing that the teacher who observed the incident told varying accounts about what had happened. For example, in her initial statement to the district, she stated that she saw the teacher push the student out the door. However, she later withdrew that portion of the statement and said that she never saw that happen. She also testified at hearing that she heard the teacher yell “shut up” at the student. However, she never reported to the district that she had heard the teacher say that. Other testimony at the hearing indicated that multiple students were yelling “shut up” at the student because she was screaming, but no other witness confirmed that the teacher had yelled “shut up” at the student and she denied that she said that.
After hearing all of the evidence, the administrative law judge concluded that the student had thrown herself out of her desk and the teacher had been holding down her legs. She further found that this use of force was reasonable and necessary in order to protect the student and others from harm and to protect the learning environment. She recommended that the complaint be dismissed and that no action be taken against the teacher’s certification. The State Board for Educator Certification accepted the recommendation and ordered that the complaint be dismissed with no sanction against the teacher’s certification.