Education

Special-Ed Teacher Grabs, Drags Elementary School Students

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A Washington special-education teacher was terminated after he allegedly used inappropriate physical force with special needs elementary school students.

After a Tacoma School District investigation, Tim Robnett was fired from his position at Larchmont Elementary school in May.

Robnett allegedly failed to follow policy on documenting timeouts which were used to address student behavior. A teacher claimed she witnessed Robnett put one particular student in timeout two or three times a day for up to 45 minutes.

According to documents obtained by The News Tribune, he turned to physical and isolation tactics rather than positive interventions. The district claims he grabbed students and physically limited their movement.

“You failed to appropriately respond to student conduct, exercised inappropriate judgment in regards to managing student behavior, and failed to maintain a safe classroom environment,” the district said in his termination letter.

Some of his former students had significant social, emotional and behavioral needs, such as needing help with feeding.

A witness said they saw Robnett yell at a student who was lying face down on the floor. When the student refused to get up, he allegedly “picked him up by the arm pits and then dropped (the student) who hit the floor, hard.”

He allegedly lifted the student under the arms again and dragged him down the hallway until Larchmont Principal Cindy Horner and the student’s mother intervened, according to the documents.

On another occasion he jerked a student by the arm and forced her away from a baseball game she was trying to join. A witness said they did not hear Robnett ask her to move on her own accord.

Robnett, through his attorney, denied the allegations.

According to the News Tribune, he has had similar trouble with other schools. He reportedly transferred to Larchmont from Reed Elementary in early December after he was accused of failing to appropriately manage student behavior.

Sources: News Tribune, Bellingham Herald

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