JUNCTION CITY, Ark. (03/13/20) — The Department of Human Services is investigating an incident where a teacher taped her kindergarten student to a chair.
“When she saw that he started crying she helped him untape himself and said it was supposed to be a joke but you don’t joke like that,” the child’s mother, Candance Flowers said.
Flowers, called DHS to investigate the issue that happened on Wednesday. Flowers and her mother, Melinda Wright, say they are experiencing a range of emotions.
“I feel sad. I’m hurt. I’m angry,” Flowers said. “I trusted the school. It’s supposed to make you feel safe when your child goes to school. Now, I have to wonder.”
Flowers said she actually heard about the incident from other parents whose children are in the same classroom.
Her son attends after school tutoring. Following tutoring, the child went to his grandmother’s house. Flower’s didn’t see her son until later that evening but the phone calls from other parents were coming in.
“I received phone calls from parents asking did I know that my child had been duct taped to the chair because he was asked to sit down,” she said. “I told them I wasn’t aware of it.”
Flowers said that’s when she went home and woke her son up to ask him what happened. He began crying but admitted that the teacher taped him around the legs because he wouldn’t sit down.
Kala Smith was one of the parents that called Flowers. Smith’s daughter was also in the classroom. She always asks her daughter how her day goes at school. That day she said her daughter acted as if she really had something to share.
“My little girl told me that he was trying to get an eraser and she told him to sit and I guess he tried to get it,” Smith said. “You know kids are going to be kids and at that point that’s when she duct taped him to the chair.”
Flowers and her mother visited the school the next day to speak with the principal and superintendent. Flowers recalled the principal being remorseful but instead of having the teacher apologize, the principal asked Flowers if she would like the teacher to apologize.
Flowers also claims that the principal and superintendent said multiple times that it was the teacher’s first year teaching and that she’s a great teacher that has a lot of potential and can be groomed. Flowers felt the school officials were trying to excuse the teacher’s actions.
“They said it was a joke and she was a rookie and it was a mistake and that it wouldn’t happen again,” she recalled.
Flowers said what really confused her was the daily report card the teacher sends home with the children. The paper included a smiley face on Wednesday’s date as well as the days preceding.
“Apparently, you felt he needed some kind of discipline,” she said. “He has a smiley face and there’s nothing to smile about. Apparently, y’all didn’t have a good day.”
Junction City School Superintendent William Lowe issued the following statement:
Wednesday, March 11, 2020, a kindergarten teacher playfully and without malice wrapped a single piece of clear packing tape around the legs of a student. The teacher quickly removed the tape and apologized to the student when he became upset.
School officials met with the child’s mother and another family member early Thursday morning. During the meeting, school administration expressed the district’s remorse that the incident occurred and apologized for the lapse in professionalism.
It’s unclear whether or not the child was taped with duct tape or a single piece of clear packing tape like the district says. Flowers said her child described the tape as being silver and the principal used the term duct tape in their conversation on Thursday.
Regardless of what kind of tape, the child’s grandmother believes some kind of action should be taken to discipline the teacher.
“Everyone know when you do wrong there should be a consequence behind your actions,” Wright said. “They could have just suspended her or some type of disciplinary action to let her know that what she did wasn’t right.”
Flowers and her mother said they’ve never received an apology from the teacher. Flower said she’s very active at her child’s school and wasn’t going to let this just go away.
“We have to show our face,” she said. “We have to let them know that we’re not just parents sending our children to school.”
Lowe also said in the statement that “the family was assured that the matter is being taken seriously. The situation is being handled in accordance with Junction City School District personnel policy.”
He couldn’t comment on what disciplinary action was being taken.