On Tuesday, June 4, 2013, students of Woodlake Elementary were sent home with a letter from Dr. Julia Battle, principal of the school where the alleged "incident" occurred. Faculty was hesitant to discuss the issue further with parents. All that is known is that the event occurred in a "behavior classroom" and involved inappropriate discipline of misbehaving students.
One student was allegedly duct taped to his chair. The teacher reportedly wrapped duct tape around the student's ankles and waist to immobilize him. He was restrained for as long as three hours. According to the student, Christian Crutchfield, an eight year old second grader, the teacher threatened to tape his mouth closed, as well. His mother reported the incident after questioning her son about bruises on his legs.
Rumors floating around the school, as many as seven teachers from the school have been removed from the classrooms. Only two employees were confirmed as involved, however. One teacher, Mr. Wilson, who admitted to taping Christian to his chair, resigned over the controversy. An unnamed teacher's aid, who witnessed and was complicit in the duct-taping, also resigned. That aid is who, allegedly, threatened to tape the student's mouth closed.
KENS channel 5 in San Antonio has this video on the incident:
The removal of these educators created a shift in personnel from among the Special Education and Life Skills departments. This incident comes just a year after another questionable behavior modification attempt within Judson ISD.
Some may recall in May 2012 an incident involving kindergarteners at Salinas Elementary. A kindergarten teacher lined-up students and had them slap the class bully.
Requests for further information have been filed with both the school and the district.
Taping Incident Should Not Tarnish Woodlake's Reputation
Woodlake Elementary School is among the better public schools in the San Antonio metropolitan area. On May 23, 2013, Woodlake Elementary's faculty and staff were inducted into the National Elementary Honor Society.
The principal, Dr. Julia Battle is one of the more transparent and accessible leaders in JISD. She holds regular events for students and parents. Those events are fun and educational platforms to inform parents, allow students to pridefully display their accomplishments, and for the faculty to address questions and concerns. Also, each day, Dr. Battle walks the school grounds as children are released. She talks with parents and acknowledges each child by name. When doing so, she shows a genuine concern as well as cementing her place in the community.
In particular, Mr. J. Stuckey's music education program is noteworthy. In addition, he leads a drum chorus made up of talented students that has performed in several venues to include half-time shows at San Antonio Spurs games.
The annual science fair, open to all students, greatly supports the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs. It invites participants to rejoice in their curiosity and explore questions scientifically. The fair itself guides students to communicate their research and findings in a structured manner that not only promotes their creativity, but provides insight into acceptable means to share that knowledge.
The Growing Problem of 'At-Risk' Students
The "behavior classroom" was established earlier this school year. It's purpose was to provide a repository for students removed or expelled from other district schools. The students with behavioral problems were placed in the special classrooms to continue their instruction under special supervision and counseling in an effort to help them better reach their full potentials in life.
Dealing with "at risk" students can be an arduous task that taxes the patience of the most tolerant and understanding of professionals. Schools, districts, and local boards of education need to address providing certain "safety valves" for these professionals as well as the students. This can better increase the safety and security of all involved.
Student behaviors and teachers' taxed patience are aggravated this time of year in many schools. Students become more restless as the school year approaches its conclusion. Teachers and aids also look towards the summer break for much needed relief from the stresses of dealing with "at risk" kids, especially those with discipline problems.
Inappropriate acts by educators are, regardless, inexcusable. However, this may lead some residents to question what roles the children's parents played in preventing any inappropriate behaviors by these kids that provoked incidents of this nature.