The Duval County School Board on Tuesday approved 10-day suspensions for three teachers, including a second-grade teacher who allegedly pinned a child to a wall with her arm after the student tried to hit her with a laptop.
A district investigative report says that on April 19, Stephanie Stripling-Mitchell used poor judgment when she put her hand and arm against a second-grade boy’s chest and throat at Hyde Grove Elementary, pinning him against a wall.
According to the report, the boy had been disruptive to the class and then disobeyed and talked back to Stripling-Mitchell when she told him to put his laptop away. She grabbed him by the arm and brought him to the front of class to put the laptop in a cart for charging. She reminded the boy that his mother had said he was supposed to respect her.
The boy, whose name was not provided, screamed and picked up a laptop, raising it over his head. Some accounts indicate he swung it at the teacher. Stripling-Mitchell grabbed the laptop with her left hand and grabbed the student with her right.
The boy said she pushed her fist into his throat, however most of the children’s and a Team Up teacher’s accounts don’t mention her using her fist. A police report said the teacher had the child’s shoulders, but there were no bruises or marks on him.
The Team Up teacher, Tanzania Jones, said Stripling-Mitchell blocked the student’s second attempt to hit her with her hand.
Jones said in a written statement that she called for help on a walkie talkie as Stripling-Mitchell yelled at the student “Oh, so you’re going to hit me? You are going to hit me?”
She said Stripling-Mitchell had him pinned aginst the board but both slid along it from right to left until Jones got between them. Jones took the boy to the office.
Later, Principal EuGena Sapp had the teacher and student re-enact the conflict in front of her. She reported it to the district, which prompted the teacher’s removal from the school during the investigation.
Tad Delegal, an attorney representing Stripling-Mitchell, said he has not seen the investigative report despite requesting it, so he couldn’t refute the specifics of each allegation.
“My client very much disputes these allegations,” he said. “I am very concerned about this process because it submits these folks to public ridicule. … The teacher was defending herself. That’s her whole defense. The teacher was responding to a violent student who was a big second grader.”
In other action, the board approved 10-days suspensions for two other teachers for over-use of unpaid leave time.