It’s been a bad week for children. First came the story of the 11-month-old Nebraska boy who’d been left for dead in a dumpster. Then, though that child was found and will be fine, it emerged that his five-year-old brother had been thrown into a nearby river.
Now, it appears that the story of a Georgia teacher who lowered an autistic student head-first into a trash can is much worse than it first appeared. Mary Katherine Pursley, a 21-year veteran of the Cobb County school system, was arrested for child abuse earlier this week. Pursley told an autistic second-grader that he was acting like Oscar the Grouch, and that she would put him in the garbage can if he didn’t change his behavior. When the seven-year-old continued to make noise, Pursley picked him up by his ankles and lowered him into the can, in full view of other students, and three fellow teachers and administrators.
Now, various media outlets across are reporting that this is not the first time Pursley has been accused of abuse–it’s just the first time she’s been caught. According to WMEM, a large group of parents approached administrators after the trash can story broke, and wanted to know why their concerns had gone unaddressed for so long. Among other accusations were verbal and physical abuse, including striking other children, spitting on them, and swearing at them. Said one parent,
Now I’m just happy that somebody stepped forward. But it’s sad that it took an adult to say that they saw something, versus a child who was experiencing it. My son has come home with marks on his body that were not done by him, or at the playground, or by another student. Things of that nature. Cursing–my child doesn’t curse, but he knows fifty million cuss words that his teacher has used towards him.
Pursley was arrested on April 30, but has since been released on bail. The child abuse charge for which she was arrested is a felony. Her trial date has not been set. For the time being, she remains on paid administrative leave.
(Photo credits: Cobb County PD; Classroom via Flickr)