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Bertie teacher suspended

MERRY HILL – A first-grade teacher at J.P. Law Elementary School has been suspended with pay while Bertie education officials sort through allegations that she tied a six-year-old to his classroom seat.

According to Bertie County Public Schools spokesperson Brent Todd, the teacher, whose name was not released due to reasons dealing with personnel issues, would remain out of the classroom until the investigation is completed.

“We are looking at finishing the investigation by this weekend,” Todd said. “At that point, the Assistant Superintendent for Personnel will make a recommendation to the Superintendent who will make a final decision.”

That decision could include termination or disciplinary actions.

The child’s mother, Kendra Williams of Merry Hill, said she found out about the incident after being contacted by a WNCT-TV 9 reporter. Williams claims TV 9 was apparently contacted by the parent of another student in her son’s class.

“When we first called the school about this, they, of course, denied it, but we later learned it was true,” Williams said yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon during a telephone interview.

Williams said she was unsure of when the incident occurred. She also claims this isn’t the first time it has occurred.

“From what we learned, the teacher tied my son, Shamar, to his chair as a means of keeping him from getting out of his seat,” Williams alleged. “I know this all sounds far-fetched, but it happened.”

Williams said her son was tied around the waist. She added that his clothes prevented any marks on his body.

“From what my son told the Channel 9 reporter, he was tied tight,” the mother explained.

Todd said the school system’s investigation up to this point revealed that knitting yarn was used to tie the child to his seat.

“We regret what happened and we certainly do not condone that type of action,” Todd said. “We will take action on this incident immediately following the investigation.”

In the meantime, Williams said she didn’t know what direction she would take when the outcome of the investigation is revealed.

“I’m undecided of what recourse I will take,” she said.

When asked if she had noticed a change in her son’s behavior following the incident, Williams said, “I know this wasn’t a pleasant experience for him. He does seem to become more emotional now when I direct him to do something. I just don’t know how this will affect him in the long term.”

Williams said the school system had offered her son professional counseling, but she turned it down because, in her words, “I just don’t have a lot of trust in them (Bertie Public Schools) right now.”

She did say that she would seek private counseling for her son if the school system would agree to pay the costs.