Parents are upset with a teacher's odd punishment
Parents' claws out after teachers' odd form of discipline
By John MacCormack
Updated 12:26 a.m., Friday, May 4, 2012
About all that is certain regarding the bizarre situation with fifth-graders in Junction is that when the teacher tells you to hush, responding with meows isn't the brightest idea.
And maybe forcing the entire fifth-grade class to crawl down the school's track, meowing as they went along, wasn't a well-thought-out disciplinary response.
Junction, a quiet town of 2,700 about 120 miles west of San Antonio, is best known for its beautiful rivers and its annual ranch rodeo. But in the wake of the Wednesday showdown at the elementary school, it's getting a different sort of attention.
Upset Junction parents are venting on Facebook, the city police have opened an investigation and the school administration is in full emergency mode, taking complaints from parents and calls from out-of-town reporters.
And the Texas Rangers are being called in to sort it all out.
“There's really nothing I can tell you at this point except that we are doing a full investigation,” Superintendent Renee Schulze said.
Some parents, however, are very willing to talk.
“Our kids came home with scraped knees and hands. It was 90-something degrees and the track was hot, with a lot of rocks,” said Marybel Anguiano, whose son Francisco was involved and didn't go to school Thursday.
Another mother, Liz Molina, said her fifth-grade daughter, Alicia, won't be going back to school for the rest of the year.
“She's upset. She can't trust the teachers. I understand the teachers made a poor decision, but our kids trusted them,” she said.
Molina said she is also withdrawing her other three children from the public school district and will home-school them for the remainder of the school year.
“We're a pretty close-knit family and they're taking this very personally. I'm afraid they'll go to school and lash out,” she said.
According to the account given to Molina by her daughter and confirmed by other sources, some of the fifth-graders were being loud and rowdy in the halls Wednesday. In response to warnings from their teachers, some of the students responded by meowing, she said.
Molina said she understands four teachers and about 50 kids were involved. But what began as a plan to have the kids run a few laps on the school track to straighten them out apparently escalated into compulsory crawling and meowing, she said.
“They want to act like cats, they should be treated like cats, and meow,” was a remark she said her daughter attributed to one teacher. Afterward, she said, some kids visited the school nurse.
Lisa Carlile whose daughter Sierra aggravated a back problem by crawling, believes the teachers used bad judgment in punishing so many kids when only a few had been disrespectful.
“It's affecting everyone's lives, the teachers, the kids and the parents. I feel bad for them, because of whatever consequences it could lead to, but they shouldn't have done it,” she said of the teachers.
Junction Police Sgt. Edward House declined to comment beyond confirming police are looking into the matter. Attempts to contact the four teachers allegedly involved were not successful.
Molina, who visited with the superintendent Thursday morning, said Schulze appears to be taking the situation seriously.
“She's not defending the teachers. She said she was very sorry and she wasn't going to rest until it was completely taken care of,” Molina said.