Name Calling By Teacher Equals Child Abuse, Court Rules

Classroom name calling was child abuse, court rules

Authorities were justified in adding the name of a teacher who ridiculed a sixth grader in front of his classmates to the state’s registry of child abusers.

That was the finding of Connecticut’s Supreme Court in a case involving an educator whose classroom teasing apparently went too far.

After an investigation, the Department of Children and Families determined that the man should be placed in the abuse registry, and he challenged this finding in court. The teacher “was suspended from his job in 2008 for eight days after it was determined he had teased a student about his weight, pinching him on the cheeks, and calling him ‘birthing mother’ and ‘pregnant.’ The boy’s mother had complained to administrators, saying the teasing made her son afraid to go to school and led to trouble sleeping and bed wetting,” AP reports. The painful cheek-pinching was an issue because the youngster had metal bars implanted in his mouth as part of orthodontia. The boy’s mom also apparently concluded that the teacher was lowering her son’s grades as a form of retaliation for the complaints.

A lower court determined that the teacher’s name should be removed from the registry in part because the applicable regulations were too vague, but the state’s highest court ruled otherwise. “It should be obvious to anyone, let alone a professional educator, that this type of behavior — targeting of a particular student’s physical characteristics in a demeaning and hurtful way — would readily fall within the terms ‘degrading’ or ‘victimizing’…”

Added the court in its unanimous decision: “…the [DCF’s] published policy manual, relevant statutes, and earlier Connecticut case law on the substantiation of reports of emotional abuse by teachers would have provided the plaintiff with notice that his conduct might result in the placement of his name on the central registry.”

Connecticut’s child abuse registry is not a public database, although potential employers can access it to run background checks on applicants. Any teacher on the registry is deemed ineligible to teach in the state, however. The teacher in the alleged child abuse registry case subsequently moved to Australia.

[image via Shutterstock]