Washington state teacher accused of bullying student
A Washington state teacher accused of bullying one of his students has been placed on administrative leave a second time after video of the incident surfaced publicly, school officials said.
The videotape, made in February but just now public, shows a teacher and classmates bullying a boy at Kopachuck Middle School in Gig Harbor, Washington.
The boy’s parents released the student-taped video this week because they were upset that the teacher didn’t lose his job, CNN Seattle affiliate KING reported Friday.
Teacher John Rosi was placed on administrative leave soon after the incident, said Charles Cuzzetto, acting superintendent of the Peninsula School District. After an investigation by a third party hired by the district, Rosi was suspended for 10 days without pay, Cuzzetto said.
Rosi, who has been teaching for 18 years, hasn’t responded to CNN’s attempts to reach him for comment.
After the February incident, Rosi sent a letter to the school district saying he has taught wrestling at the school for 14 years and has been involved in the sport for more than 30 years, according to a copy of the letter posted on KING’s website.
Rosi apologized for the incident, which occurred in the choir room and involved other boys wrestling with one another, according to the February 10 letter. At the time, Rosi viewed the incident as “harmless childhood horse play and a chance for the kids to take a break from the daily grind,” the letter said.
But in retrospect, his class wasn’t “an appropriate setting” for the horseplay, Rosi wrote.
Rosi was aware of the video recording, and no students complained of being hurt, Rosi’s letter said.
Rosi finished out the 2011-2012 school year by undergoing retraining and working as a roving substitute teacher, and he was assigned to teach this fall in another middle school in the district, Cuzzetto told CNN.
But the public release of the video led the school district on Friday to put Rosi back on administrative leave,Cuzzetto said.
School goes back into session Tuesday.
The cell phone video, as seen on the website of CNN affiliate KIRO, depicts the teacher putting the boy into a headlock and driving him into the floor and, in another instance, pulling the boy up from the floor by his feet — all while in the classroom surrounded by other students.
An attorney for the boy and his parents told CNN that the child is going to start at another school this fall.
The boy is undergoing therapy and counseling, said attorney Joan Mell.
The incident started near the cafeteria and the boy became a target for the “bigger children to pick on,” the attorney said.
The bigger kids were punching one another, and when the students returned to the classroom, some of them took the boy’s shoes and “it became a game of chase,” the attorney said.
The game “escalated out of control,” Mell told CNN.
Referring to teacher Rosi, Mell charged: “He led it, he taught it … he incited it.”
Det. Lynelle Anderson of Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said investigators interviewed the boy and are now awaiting on redacted information from the school system.
On Friday, a “general threat” was made against the school system in connection with the incident, but no arrests were made after an investigation, Anderson told CNN.
The incident was Rosi’s first “classroom management” complaint against him in the district, Cuzzetto said.