This time it’s a kindergarten teacher in southern Indiana accused of humiliating a five-year-old boy in front of his classmates. Gabriel Ross told his parents throughout the year that his teacher, Kristen Woodward, was mean. He said other children didn’t like him because he was “bad and stupid.”
In mid-April, Tabitha McMahan and stepfather J.R. Edwards sent Gabriel to school with a tape recorder in his pocket.
“I’ve been more than nice to you all year long and you’ve been ignorant, selfish, self-absorbed, the whole thing! I’m done!” Woodward says to Gabriel on the tape.
She continues: “Something needs to be done because you are pathetic! If me saying these words to you hurt, I hope it does because you’re hurting everyone else around you.”
Gabriel can be heard crying on the tape.
The teacher encouraged the kindergarteners to reject Gabriel.
“So you guys think, is that somebody you want to be with?” Woodward asks the class.
In unison, the other students reply, “Noooo.”
“See, your friend doesn’t want to be with you. I don’t know what else to tell you. So you’re not going to have friends because of your actions.”
She was having a bad day and lost her cool, says the teachers’ union. Too bad that just happened to be the day she was on tape. After listening to the rant, the parents pulled Gabriel out of school.
Early in the year, the teacher, a 13-year veteran, said the school would set up a “behavioral plan” for Gabriel, says the stepfather. He says that when he tried to discuss the plan, Woodward said, “I don’t have time for this.” His report card was a mix of smiley faces and frowns, usually for being disruptive, but the teacher never asked to meet with them, the parents say.
I don’t care how aggravating this boy was. He’s five years old. The teacher had options — such as talking to the parents — short of berating him and encouraging his classmates to reject him.
Woodward has been suspended. She says she’s moving out of state and vows never to teach in a public school again. Does she think private schools welcome abusive teachers?