An Arkansas kindergarten teacher may be fired after allegedly forcing a five-year-old boy to clean out a clogged commode bare-handed — to teach him a lesson about using too much toilet paper.
“They basically made him go in the toilet and get his feces and the dirty tissue out of the toilet,” outraged mom Ashley Murry told the local NBC affiliate, calling the incident “degrading.”
The teacher, Karla Lassiter, who worked at the Crystal Hill Elementary School in Little Rock, remains on leave pending a school district investigation, according to the Pulaski County Special School District.
The district has begun the process of firing Lassiter, school officials said in a statement.
Ashley said Lassiter called her personally to admit she was wrong.
“She got on the phone with me and she said she didn’t have an explanation, she just knew she was wrong. But she stated to the principal that she was trying to teach how not to stop up the toilet,” said Ashley.
“I told her that’s not good enough for me,” added Ashley’s mother, Tami.
“You want a child to put their hand in there physically and clean out the commode – no, no, no, no, no,” Tami, told the station.
By Thursday afternoon, more than 7,500 people had supported a Change.org petition urging that Lassiter be fired and raising the specter that the humiliating incident was an example of racial bias.
Lassiter is white; the boy, whose name was not released, is Black.
“Whether racially motivated or not it is clear this was done to humiliate the child, something a teacher should never aim for,” the Change.org petition reads.
“Further she has put this child’s health at risk, as this act is extremely unsanitary.”
School officials, meanwhile, are urging calm, and promising in a statement from the district superintendent, Charles McNulty, to deal with the matter “with integrity and high expectations.”
“For those who want to take advantage of these experiences in order to create cultural power or dehumanize other individuals, that is not how justice is served. Justice is about the humanity that we bring each and every day,” McNulty adds.
“We have a leadership team that looks like our community with powerful voices, speaking for all. We will do what is right for our students, but we will not forget our humanity.”