Washington state mom Karla Kinney is horrified that a middle school teacher, who she says joined in on bullying of her 13-year-old son, is still on the job. The bullying incident took place last February, but came to light just recently following a school district investigation, says ABC News.
Video taken by fellow students on their cell phones show Ms. Kinney’s son being dragged around a classroom in his middle school, near Tacoma, Wash. The videos, which go on for about 15 minutes, also show a sock being stuffed into the boy’s mouth, other students writing on the boy’s feet, and the boy’s face being covered with a pillow. At one point, the boy’s body is covered with chairs, and other students use their hands and feet to hold the chairs down.
“When I drop my kids off I’m dropping them off as a parent handing my kids to a school that is going to take care of them,” Ms. Kinney told ABC News.
The teacher, clearly visible going along with things in the video, is John Rosi, a math and PE teacher, and wrestling coach. In a statement to investigators, he wrote:
“I can honestly say that at the time I did not believe that any of the children were at risk of harm during their interactions. Nor did I view the incident as anything more than harmless childhood horseplay.”
According to The News Tribune, a Tacoma newspaper, Mr. Rosi smilingly joined in and “at one point, he mugs for the phone cameras.”
“Rosi pokes the boy in the stomach, pretends to sit on him, points his rear toward the boy’s face and says, ‘I’m feeling kind of gassy,’” reports The News Tribune. “Eventually, he tells the students to go back to their lessons. Only a few minutes of class time remain.”
The incident lasted apparently about 15 minutes, which seems like a hell of a long time for a teacher to allow even “horseplay” to go on. The incident took place during a half-hour class intended for reading and math preparation.
Mr. Rosi avoided being fired by accepting a 10-day suspension, which Charles Cuzzeto, Acting School Superintendent of Peninsula School District, called “pretty significant disciplinary action.” Mr. Rossi has since been reassigned to another school.
Ms. Kinney said that other students blamed her son for the popular teacher’s suspension.
“He said he wanted to kill himself,” she told ABC News. “The kids had blamed him for this popular teacher and the suspension he received.”
The boy’s parents have requested a criminal investigation. In an interview with The News Tribune, they said Peninsula School District officials handled the matter poorly, withheld information and downplayed the seriousness of the incident, characterizing it as roughhousing and poor classroom management by Mr. Rosi instead of serious bullying.
“(Rosi) is completely ignorant of the fact that he’s got a whole classroom hazing one kid,” the boy’s father said to The News Tribune. “They classified it as roughhousing. But it’s not 14 kids wrestling each other. It’s a dozen kids using my son to demonstrate their dominance over him.”
A short section of the video, released as part of school district records, is below.