Oakland public school administrators placed a fourth grade teacher on administrative leave today after a parent made allegations she physically, mentally and emotionally abused her daughter. Parent Sharena Thomas alleged that her daughter’s fourth grade teacher at the Rise Community School, called her the “darkest kid in class,” dragged her down two flights of stairs by her wrists, threw grapes in her face, and put her fist in her face. Oakland Unified School District spokesman Troy Flint said the fact that the teacher was placed on paid leave does not indicate any wrongdoing. “Certainly, these are serious charges and we will research them to the fullest extent to determine what level of truth may reside in them,” Flint said. ”
At the same time, the teacher is obligated to receive due process. We won’t make any determination as to her status until we complete the investigation.” Thomas said the incidents occurred on Oct. 9, after the student described another classmate’s hair as “nappy.” Thomas was picking up her daughter from school that day when she spoke to her teacher at the school office. The teacher reportedly asked Thomas if her daughter had a problem being dark-skinned and claimed she lied in class. Thomas said she thought the claim was odd and filed a complaint with the principal’s office.
Roughly a week later, Thomas, her daughter, and the teacher met with the principal but Thomas said the teacher became belligerent Several days later, Thomas said she took her daughter to church to speak with a pastor. At the time, the girl told the pastor about the alleged physical abuse, which she had not previously disclosed. Thomas said her daughter told her pastor that the teacher threatened to harm her mother if she told her about what happened. Thomas filed a second complaint with new allegations, and Flint said the school immediately put the teacher on paid leave, as per the district’s protocol. Thomas said she also filed a police report and wants to press criminal abuse charges against the teacher.
Oakland police could not be reached this evening to confirm that they had received the report. “I want these kids to be safe. They deserve to be in a safe environment,” Thomas said. “We have a drop out rate here. Kids who drop out are troubled. This could lead my child to go in any direction.” Thomas described her daughter as a straight-A student. She said she had never had these kinds of issues prior to the start of this school year. Flint said the accused teacher is a “veteran” in the district who has been teaching at Rise Community School for “less than five years.” She had one other complaint filed against her, which Flint said arose from a personal dispute that escalated into a heated argument.
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