Southland Teacher Tapes Students' Mouths Shut - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/24/03

Southland Teacher Tapes Students' Mouths Shut

Some parents in the small Garza County Community of Southland want a teacher removed from her classroom. Earlier this week, the teacher taped shut the mouths of five boys who were disrupting class.

This incident has prompted a child endangerment investigation by the Garza County Sheriff's office. Some parents of the boys whose mouths were taped shut say they're not against discipline, they just think the teacher could have used better judgment.

Mary Lea and Pam Phillips both have 11-year-old boys. Both of their sons had their mouths taped shut at school on Monday. "She overstepped her boundaries there," says Phillips of the teachers method of disciplinary action.

According to the 6th grade boys, their Southland teacher taped their mouths shut with masking tape because they were being disruptive. Mary Lea says it's not discipline she's upset with, it's the form of discipline this teacher used. She says it was inappropriate and out of line. "There are at least 10 phone numbers where they can contact me. I would have not opposed to him having licks," says Lea.

"I've had a conference with this woman and told her, 'If my son gives you problems, take him to the office, have his tail busted. If it continues after that, you call me. And I will put a stop to it," says Phillips.

Both mothers say their sons' are asthmatic, and the tape, which the teacher apparently wrapped all the way around their heads, could have triggered an attack.

But other students at Southland told us that the boys, 'thought it was cool and were joking around about having their mouths taped shut.' The other students also say, 'it's not like they were tied up, they could have reached up with their hands and pulled the tape off.'

The Southland School District hasn't released a comment and hasn't taken any disciplinary action yet with the teacher. The teacher has reportedly been taping students' mouths shut for three months, after hearing news that Lubbock District Court Judge Jim Bob Darnell taped an inmates mouth shut for acting up in his courtroom.

Both Mary and Pam have asked that their children be removed from the class. Under the Texas Education Code, a parent is entitled to remove a child from a class or other school activity that conflicts with the parent's religious or moral beliefs.

The teacher has apologized to the parents and has promised that it won't happen again. On the other side of all of this, everyone we talked to Thursday agrees that Southland is an excellent school district. And, the students we talked to say the teacher who has come under fire is actually one of their best.

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