Special Needs Teacher Keeps Job After Forcing Preschooler To Drink Hot Sauce, School Says It Is ‘Her Culture’

A special needs teacher at Friendship Pediatric Services in Bryant, Arkansas, is still employed at the speech therapy location despite having admitted to forcing a four-year-old student to drink hot sauce as punishment. The child came home vomiting and complaining of a stomach ache and later informed his mother that he “got hot sauce at school.” Upon further prodding, the mother learned that the preschooler was forced to drink hot sauce as punishment for hitting a friend in class. The teacher admitted to the unusual form of punishment, but the school has refused to fire the teacher, noting that hot sauce is part of “her culture.”

Tanner Whitley, 4, was attending Friendship Pediatric Services for speech therapy when he acted out in class. Instead of putting the child in time out, the teacher decided to punish the small child by forcing him to drink hot sauce in front of other students in the class. The hot sauce caused the child’s stomach to become upset, and he started vomiting. Tanner’s mother picked him up from school early thinking her son was suffering from a stomach bug, but she later learned that the stomach issues were the result of the teacher’s punishment, not a tummy virus.

The Daily Mail reports that Tanner’s mother, Melaina was told by the child that he got “hot sauce at school.” The child noted that he had so much sauce that he needed to have water to drink. Therefore, the mother says that there is no way her child would have willingly taken the hot sauce without the teacher exerting force.

“He said, ‘I got hot sauce at school’. He said it was hot and he had to get water. I’m assuming that [the teacher] really had to force the hot sauce down.”

The mother went on to note that she believes the other children in the class, or possibly the teacher, laughed at her son as he was forced to drink the hot liquid. She claims her son kept telling her “it wasn’t funny,” indicating that others in the class may have been laughing at her son during the ordeal.

“He was upset and kept saying, ‘It’s not funny.’ So maybe they were laughing when it happened. But I wasn’t laughing.”

The outraged mother went to the school to inform the teacher that her discipline methods were unacceptable. After speaking with the teacher. Melaina decided to get the police involved. The mother says that when police went to the school, the director informed them that the teacher admitted to using hot sauce as a means of punishment for bad behavior in the classroom. The director claimed that Tanner had hit another student, so the hot sauce was given as a means of discipline. The school went on to defend the teacher’s actions by noting hot sauce punishment is part of the teacher’s “culture.”

According to US Magazine, a police report regarding the incident reveals that the teacher admitted to using hot sauce as punishment, and Tanner was forced to drink the spicy mixture after he refused to listen in class and hit another child. The teacher went on to explain to the police that the hot sauce punishment was “common” in her culture. However, the Department of Human Services notes that an investigation into the incident is open as the only approved means of punishment for the child’s actions would be a time out and a discussion with the parent.

“Division of Children and Family Services in Arkansas, the only approved discipline method is issuing a time-out.”

Meanwhile, the mom is furious at the fact that the school has refused to fire the teacher over the incident. The mother says that the teacher is still employed, and the school has allowed her to remain, noting that the hot sauce punishment was “cultural.” However, the school is reportedly cooperating with the child services investigation and is currently refusing to comment on the case.

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