Gwinnett classroom attack stirs social media

Jan 26, 2018

An apparent incident of bullying at a Gwinnett County school has many parents and students concerned about safety issues. A video of a violent incident between two girls at Creekland Middle School began circulating earlier this week on on social media. The incident happend on Monday, Jan. 22, when a seventh-grade girl hit another girl with a chair, then hit her in the head with her hand, said Gwinnett County Schools officials.

“This incident occurred at the end of the school day and the victim reported this situation to an administrator,” wrote Sloan Roach, Gwinnett schools spokeswoman, in an email to the AJC. “In addition to disciplinary action, the student also is facing criminal charges. As this situation did occur in the classroom, the school also is addressing this issue with the teacher. This type of behavior is not acceptable and the school took immediate action.”

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The names of students haven’t been released, but Principal Eddie Maresh sent home a letter to parents “to reassure you that we are aware of this situation and have dealt with it appropriately.” Maresh wrote, “As you know we are focused on providing students with a safe and positive teaching and learning environment. Although the vast majority of our students follow school rules, when misbehavior occurs we deal with it quickly. In addition, we work directly with the parents of the students who are involved in a situation.”

The student who is seen hitting the other was charged with simple batttery, according to Channel 2 Action News.

Because of the social media postings, Maresh said he’s received a number of calls and wanted to reassure the community that the situation is being dealt with.

Most of the Facebook posts questioned the teacher’s whereabouts.

Tamara King didn’t have any first-hand knowledge of the incident, but what she saw online prompted to post a comment.

“I hate to see those videos showing up,” she told the AJC. “It seems like the problem is growing. As I mother of a kindergartner I worry that seeing violence will desensitize kids into thinking it’s O.K.”

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Although Gwinnett School officials haven’t said whether the teacher was present, there doesn’t appear to be any adult supervision in the video.

“Supervision of students is part of a teacher’s duties and responsibilities,” wrote Roach in another email to the AJC. “In addition, teachers are evaluated on their work to create a positive learning environment. It is our expectation that students will be monitored while they are in the classroom. In addition, to the principal’s work with the teacher, Human Resources is investigating this situation.”

The National Education Association Office of General Counsel has compiled a list of what it calls “Seven Deadly Sins of School Employees.”

Leaving students unsupervised is one of the actions listed.

“Indefensible. When you walk away, something bad will happen, (little Billie will somehow blind Sally with a paperclip), and it will be entirely your fault. I understand the “need to use the bathroom” defense. Sadly, that won’t help,” it reads. “Someone must be supervising students during even a quick bathroom break (secretary, paraprofessional, even a custodian). Having someone “watch” from the next room isn’t enough. The number one job of a teacher is to supervise students, no exceptions.”