Substitute Teacher Accused of Leading Strip Game with Children

Saturday, November 6th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A substitute teacher at a Catoosa elementary school allegedly led children in a game that involved taking off their clothes. The incident reportedly happened Tuesday in a fourth grade physical education class at Cherokee Elementary.

June Barton says her daughter came home from school Tuesday upset, saying the substitute teacher, a woman, made some students take their clothes off during a game.
"She said they were in a circle,” explained Barton. “They had to sing a song and then they had to toss some balls to the other kids. They were supposed to answer back in a song, and if they didn't answer back properly or catch the balls, they had to remove their clothing," she said.

Barton's child caught the ball, so she didn't take off her clothes. She doesn't know how many other children did. "I don't know how many children exactly. But I do know the one child she was throwing the ball to, was down to his boxer shorts,” Barton said.

Police have interviewed six families and plan to talk with more. Catoosa police chief Raymond Rogers says at this point, it appears only one child removed his clothes. "A student was penalized during the game for making a mistake,” Roger said. “And we understand they may have been instructed by the teacher to take an article of clothing off. We're not sure it wasn't because they were running and playing and overheated,” he explained.

Cherokee elementary parent Kathy Ray said, "I can't even imagine. I don't know the facts of it all. But if it was anything like I heard, then she shouldn't be allowed to substitute.” Police plan to question the substitute about the incident. The school and the police declined to provide the substitute’s name.

Catoosa school superintendent Darrell Gwartney declined an interview until he has the complete results of the investigation. He did say the substitute, a certified teacher, has been removed from the district's sub list. Police plan to submit the results of their investigation to the Rogers County district attorney next Wednesday. Rogers says the district attorney will decide whether charges will be filed against the substitute.