A paper cut?
A fight about a hairbrush?
Are those really reasons to get arrested in San Luis Obispo County these days, or was this an overreaction to a problem that school officials could have handled?
In either case, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office and the Lucia Mar Unified School District need to explain an event that has left the Lucia Mar teachers’ union angry, many locals confused, and almost everyone wants to know the whole story.
What we know is: The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office says that on Tuesday morning, a teacher at Mesa Middle School hurt a student by taking a toothbrush away from her. Then, the same student says, the teacher threw some papers around, cutting him or her with one. The Sheriff’s Office was called, and the teacher was taken into custody on suspicion of abusing the child.
The student is apparently the child of a sheriff’s deputy, according to the teachers union, but neither the Sheriff’s Office nor the school district would confirm that.
The sheriff gave the case to the District Attorney’s Office, which will decide if the teacher did anything wrong.
If it does, it had better get ready for a lot of angry teachers.
The Sheriff’s Office Says It Has to Do Something
The Sheriff’s Office told reporter Mackenzie Shuman that it has to do something when an adult hurts a kid, and in this case, “the teacher’s actions caused injuries that were clearly visible on the student’s hand and near her eye.”
Teachers told The Tribune that the student went to class and track practice after the event, and there were no obvious signs of injury.
Also, think about what the penal code says. It says that child abuse is the willful use of “cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or an injury that causes a traumatic condition.”
A paper cut may hurt, but it’s not even close to being a “traumatic condition.” How bad can a hand get hurt if two people fight over a hairbrush?
The bigger question is whether or not there were other ways to handle this situation than to arrest and shame a public school teacher in public. Does the Sheriff’s Office not have any freedom of choice?
How does the school district fit into all of this? Do teachers get the training and help they need to deal with kids who aren’t behaving?
The group for teachers says they are not.
“This event shows how badly our classrooms need more help from the administration when students act out. This year has seen a level of defiance and troublemaking that has never been seen before. Teachers’ requests for help should not be ignored,” it wrote in a message to users.
It sounds like this teacher was very angry and didn’t know how to handle the situation well.
But if there was no proof of real injuries, that should have been taken care of by the school system, not the police.
If not, what message does that send to teachers, who already have a lot on their plates?
That even a small mistake could put them in jail, ruin their jobs, and turn their lives upside down?
That officials have no reason to be kind to them?
That the children of police officers have a special place in society?
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People Feel Sorry for the Teacher
From what people are saying on social media, it looks like they are on the teacher’s side.
Here are just a few of the many comments that people have left on the Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page:
“She (the student) should have put down the hairbrush, as she was probably told at least six times.”
“It looks like you’re mistreating the teacher and not the child.”
“How could (Sheriff) Ian Parkinson let this happen, especially since it looks bad for the department?”
“Today, the job is almost impossible. I know a few teachers who have left or will soon leave.”
A few comments asked people not to judge too quickly, like “Wow just wow no one knows the whole story but everyone is blaming the child, grab your torches and pitchforks… for the child to be arrested there’s probably more to the story.”
In fact, many people are putting the blame on the parents, saying that they are eventually responsible for how their kids act when they are not at home.
It is true that no one knows the whole story, except for those who were in the classroom when it happened.
But based on the little information that was given, this has been blown way out of proportion, which hurt the teacher, who was arrested, “named and shamed,” and put on administrative leave by the school system.
There is also the question of a conflict of interest if the case was really treated differently because the student is the child of a deputy.
We ask the District Attorney’s Office very strongly not to pursue the case.
And the Lucia Mar Unified School District needs to take a fresh look at the training and support it gives its teachers to make sure they have the skills and help they need to deal with the many issues they face.
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