Clinton Middle School investigation continues

Monday, February 6th 2006, 10:36 am
By: News On 6

The investigation continues in the case of a Tulsa middle school teacher accused of assaulting a 13-year old female student. The teacher has publicly stated he felt threatened by an unruly student, the girl says he grabbed her and threw her to the floor.

News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin has the latest on the case and just how far teachers are allowed to go in disciplining a child.

Her family asks that we protect her name. The 13-year old girl was hospitalized for four days with an apparent head injury and Tulsa Police say she was bleeding from the ear when the ambulance took her away.

Clinton Middle School officials say it was after a physical altercation with music teacher Mark French. Police say French told them he thought the girl was going to hit him. Neither is back at school. French is still on paid suspension and the girl is recovering at home. School officials have till the end of the week to decide whether French deserves to be fired.

While they can't comment on this investigation, district officials say teachers are taught how to handle behavior problems in class. Tulsa Public Schools’ director of compliance Roger Holder: “based on that training and experience, we rely on their expertise to make a judgement call, depending on the situation."

While corporal punishment is not allowed, there is no set policy that a teacher can't ever touch a student. If teachers feel threatened or need to protect other students, they can defend themselves. "It'd be a case by case basis, but I think there's a difference between touching them and disciplining them."

Holder says teachers should not physically escort an unruly student out of class. Classrooms are equipped with a panic button or a phone to contact security. "Our teachers are expected to be role models for the students and create an environment that's conducive to learning in the classroom and toward that end, they would use the judgement necessary to make that the case."

By the end of the week, the Tulsa Public Schools superintendent must either recommend French's dismissal or re-instate him in the classroom.

The student's family members did not want to comment and the teacher did not return our calls.