Parent alleges abuse

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 12, 2008

LINDEN &8212; Board members were silent as a parent of the Marengo County school system came to them alleging that her child was improperly disciplined at A.L. Johnson High School last month.

Sallie McGee, the child&8217;s mother, said the child&8217;s teacher first explained the bruises on her daughter&8217;s face as accident where the fourth-grader had run into a file cabinet. Later in the school day and out of earshot of other school employees, the teacher told McGee she had spanked her daughter for failing a test.

While disciplining the child, the teacher said the strap used to deliver the spanking mistakenly hit her in the face, causing serious contusions. McGee said in the past, the school had always called when there was a discipline issue, but this time there was no phone call and that the school had gone too far.

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At a later conference with the child&8217;s teacher and the school&8217;s principal, McGee said the only recourse was to put a letter of reprimand in the teacher&8217;s file &8212; her first in 30 years of teaching.

Dissatisfied with the response of school officials, McGee met with Superintendent Luke Hallmark, who she said concurred with the actions of the school&8217;s principal and her daughter&8217;s teacher. Still feeling dissatisfied, McGee said her next course of action was to go before the board.

Several weeks after the incident, McGee said her daughter still has a mark on her face, and she continues to ask why she was treated the way she was. When asked if she planned to move her child from the school, McGee said it was not financially viable for her family.

After hearing McGee&8217;s concerns, chairman of the board Barbara Pritchett asked Hallmark to further investigate the matter and report to the board at the next regular meeting.

When asked what form his investigation would take, Hallmark said he would make sure the system&8217;s faculty and staff are aware of the disciplinary policies and procedures.