Teacher: Trash Can Meant To Calm Boy With Autism - Disability Scoop

Teacher: Trash Can Meant To Calm Boy With Autism - Disability Scoop



A special education teacher in Georgia accused of putting a
second-grader with autism in a trash can, comparing his behavior to
Oscar the Grouch on “Sesame Street,” says she was trying to calm the
child, not hurt him.


Mary Katherine Pursley demonstrates how she says she held a student over a trash can. The veteran Cobb County special education teacher is accused of putting a second-grader with autism in a trash can and calling him Oscar the Grouch. She went before a tribunal at the school system headquarters Monday. (Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)
Mary
Katherine Pursley demonstrates how she says she held a student over a
trash can. The veteran Cobb County special education teacher is accused
of putting a second-grader with autism in a trash can and calling him
Oscar the Grouch. She went before a tribunal at the school system
headquarters Monday. (Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)
Mary Katherine Pursley, a teacher at Mt. Bethel Elementary, in
Marietta, Ga., said at a tribunal hearing Monday at the Cobb County
School District office that the child was screaming and upset at an
after-school program and she was attempting to get him to stop by
holding him over a trash can to “shake out the grouchy.”


“My intention was not to put him all the way in the can,” Pursley
told a panel of former educators at the hearing, who will decide if
she’s dismissed from her job with the school district. “I was sort of
shaking him over the trash can.”


Attorneys for the school system argued Pursley “engaged in
inappropriate physical contact” with the student and she should be
dismissed from her position at Mt. Bethel. Pursley has been with the
school district for 21 years and has been on administrative leave with
pay following the April 30 incident.


Pursley, 45, who was arrested and charged with cruelty to children in
the first degree, is accused of talking with the “victim about Oscar
the Grouch and his ‘trashy behavior'” during the after-school program,
Pursley’s arrest warrant states. “The accused told the victim, ‘If he
had trashy behavior like Oscar, he’d go to the trash can.'”


Pursley then allegedly picked up the child by his legs, held him
upside down and put him head-first into a trash can, according to
police.


The boy was crying, screaming and yelling “stop” while Pursley held
him, the arrest warrant states. She then set him down on the floor. The
incident was witnessed by two paraprofessionals and the school’s
after-school director. Other students in the classroom also witnessed
Pursley’s actions, according to police.


The tribunal panel is expected to make a decision by Friday regarding
Pursley’s dismissal, according to a spokeswoman with the Cobb school
system.

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