- Editor’s Note: Comments that several individuals sought to append to this story on Monday (June 13, 2016) bore a distinctly unpleasant, hostile and offensive tone. Some used language we consider inappropriate for publication. Consequently we have removed all remarks, and as of 9:40 a.m. blocked the ability to comment on this page.
UPPER POTTSGROVE PA – A substitute teacher working in Pottsgrove Middle School on North Hanover Street was “immediately removed from teaching duties” and “will not work” again in the Pottsgrove School District after being “captured on video slapping a middle school student in the face,” district Superintendent Shellie Feola reported.
Feola’s announcement came in the form of an e-mail sent to parents. A copy of her message was posted by a recipient Friday afternoon (June 10, 2016) shortly after 2 p.m. at the Middle School Discussion Page on Facebook. It was not made publicly available on the district website.
The e-mail did not identify the teacher or student involved by names, age, grade or gender. It also did not give a specific date the slapping incident occurred, but mentioned it happened “this week.” Feola gave no indication of what prompted the incident. “The student was not seriously injured,” she wrote, and added “the incident was reported by the district to appropriate authorities.”
The substitute had been employed “on a per diem basis,” or only for each day worked, according to Feola.
News of the incident prompted some Facebook readers to go searching online to find the video on social media, where Feola stated it had appeared. They reportedly had little success. It is not known who recorded the video, under what circumstances, or when it was first brought to the district’s attention.
“Our teaching staff is hard-working, dedicated, and kind, and this kind of behavior will not be tolerated in our schools,” Feola wrote. “This is obviously not in any way acceptable.” She also noted that “all substitutes must complete background clearances and be certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.”
Feola said she sent the e-mail because “we wanted to be sure you heard the facts in the matter from the school district.”
District administrators were criticized by the Board of School Directors as recently as its May 24 (2016; Tuesday) meeting for failing to be more “proactive,” as board member William Parker put it, in alerting parents and families of certain occurrences within district buildings.
The admonition arose during a discussion about police crime reports published monthly by The Sanatoga Post, as released from the Lower Pottsgrove Police Department. The Post stories usually give an accounting, as available, of incidents that prompt investigations or arrests of students by the department’s school resource officer (SRO). The SRO works at Pottsgrove under a contractual agreement with the township.
Directors complained families were hearing distressing news from the media first, instead of directly from the district. Board President Rick Rabinowitz suggested Pottsgrove would benefit from providing “context sooner, rather than waiting after the fact.” He and other directors favored “sending an alert home” if students were affected by an incident or if they were required to be moved.