A Georgia elementary school teacher is facing the loss of her job after she allegedly put a second-grade boy with autism headfirst into a trash can during an after-school program.
Mary Katherine Pursley, 45, appeared at a tribunal on June 22 in an attempt to keep her job following the April 30 incident at Mt. Bethel Elementary School in Cobb County, Georgia.
“My intention was not to put him all the way in the can,” Pursley told the panel, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “I was sort of shaking him over the trash can.”
Pursley claimed she was joking with the student by comparing his behavior to Oscar the Grouch from the TV show "Sesame Street."
“I had a strong hold of him,” she claimed, reported 11 Alive. “He wasn't flailing around or anything. I had (sic) strong hold of him. He was crying. He was screaming already, very loudly.”
She told the tribunal he had been screaming and hitting other children, so she had wanted to calm him down.
Investigators did not agree.
“In his testimony to me, he did not take it as being joking,” explained investigator Chris Dowd. “He did not see it as being teased. His demeanor changed. He clenched his fist and got visibly angry and stated, 'She makes me so angry, I just want to get away from her.'”
“The accused told the victim, ‘If he had trashy behavior like Oscar, he’d go to the trash can,’” the arrest warrant stated, reported the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
“She told him that he, if he was continuing to talk trashy — that trashy talk, trashy behavior — belonged in the trash can,” commented Lynne Parry, special education paraprofessional at Mt. Bethel.
The tribunal, which is made up of four former educators, has stated it is likely to make a recommendation by June 26 on Pursley’s dismissal. Cobb School Board will have the power to make the final decision on the matter.
Pursley also faces a criminal charge of cruelty to children in the first degree.
Photo Credit: Screenshot via 11 Alive