Idaho Teacher’s Inappropriate Punishment

22 Nov

Summer Larsen, a fourth-grade teacher at Declo Elementary School, crossed the line when she decided to punish students for not reaching their reading goals—and now faces serious backlash. Larsen’s students are on an advanced reading track and are supposed to read a certain number of books over a set period of time. As an “incentive” to help her students reach their goals, she let the students choose what a proper punishment would be for those who weren’t successful.


The options the students came up with were to either have their classmates stay inside for recess until they met the goal, or have their faces written on by classmates who did reach their goals. Students got to choose which punishment they would receive.


Nine students in Larsen’s 21-student class didn’t meet their goals. Three chose to give up recess and the other six chose to have their faces written on. Cindy Hurst said her 10-year-old son—who did not reach his goal—came home with his whole face (even his eyelids) covered in green, red, and purple permanent marker.


“He was humiliated, he hung his head and wanted to go wash his face,” she said. “He knows he’s a slow reader. Now he thinks he should be punished for it.”


Some of the students who didn’t reach their goals have learning problems. Some have confidence problems already as well. “I think children should feel safe at school and know the adults there will protect them,” said LeRoy Robinson, grandfather of two of the children who were written on. “It was a humiliation because they had to wear it all day and other kids were asking them about it and laughing at them.”


His wife, Karla added, “Most of these kids were totally embarrassed and wanted to hid it from their parents, but the marker didn’t wash off.”


No word yet if Larsen faces disciplinarian action. Not all parents were upset, either. One parent (whose daughter did reach her goal) said, “I don’t feel like this was bullying. Bullying has a malicious intent. This was someone trying to get them motivated. I think it upset the parents more than the students.”



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