Lisa Houston, a teacher at Palmetto High School in Anderson County, South Carolina, was recently filmed playfully pulling a black student’s dreadlocks while he was sleeping at his desk (full video below).
A video shows Houston standing on a desk, gently tapping the student on the face, pulling his dreadlocks, stomping her foot on the desk and pushing him in the chest with the bottom of her foot in a playful manner, reports WSPA.
After the video went viral, Houston’s lawyer, Ryan Beasley, said Houston was forced to resign, notes the Independent Mail.
Houston defended herself to WYFF:
If you ask any kid I’ve taught, they’ll tell you I kid around with them, make them stay awake and laugh with them. I know the video looks bad. If you don’t know the situation, you don’t know what’s going on, but it was not a malicious act.
It was all in fun. I want the public to know that I love the student, and that our rapport with each other was great. I would have never done anything to hurt him.
Julian Johnson, the father of the student in the video, told WHNS that neither he nor his son asked for disciplinary action against Houston:
My son has nothing to do with this. He was tired and went to sleep. I didn’t call for her to be fired. I wish it would go away and that it never happened.
Current and former students started a social media campaign, marched and created an online petition that says Houston “was wrongly accused of ‘hurting’ and ‘mistreating’ a student, when all she was trying to do was have fun, wake him up, and make him LEARN. … She deserves her job back, more than anyone else.”
Superintendent for Anderson School District One, Jane Harrison, issued a statement to WHNS:
The district wishes our community to know that the school administration immediately conducted an inquiry into what occurred. The individual has already separated as an Anderson 1 teacher.
Although the district is unable to comment in detail about the matter, the administration took seriously what occurred, and the teacher, who has had an exemplary record of teaching performance, decided of her own accord that she would retire in the best interest of her school.
Doug Atkins, the vice chairman of the Anderson School District 1 board, said he resigned in protest:
I just don’t want to be associated with this kind of action. She was a good teacher, one of the best teachers the district has, with an excellent record.
I hired her myself and know what kind of person she is. The administration reacted in haste.