By Barclay Bishop
A Copeland Elementary School Pre-K teacher is out of the classroom after allegations that she punished one of her students by locking him in a closet in the classroom. The mother of the child says it was two months before she was ever notified that allegations of this type were even being made.
“How can a teacher do this to a 4 year old? To any child? To any student?” asks Tracey Quarles, grandmother of the 4-year-old student who was allegedly locked in a closet by his school teacher.
It's a question that Tracey Quarles, and her daughter LaTanya Murray, have been asking for weeks now. Murray's 4-year-old son, making allegations that when he is bad, his Pre-K teacher at Copeland Elementary, Francine Wynn, will lock him in this closet…located in the classroom.
“As a mother I had a tear in my eye because I was like 'what?” said LaTanya Murray, mother of the 4-year-old student who was allegedly locked in a closet by his school teacher.
Murray tells WJBF News Channel 6 that she first heard of the problem from her son's principal, Kimberly Davis, when she first suspected something in December. When the boy denied something was wrong…Davis took no further action.
“I was not aware that the parent was not contacted immediately,” said Dr. Frank Roberson, Richmond County Schools System Superintendent.
Two months later, Murray tells WJBF News Channel 6 that a paraprofessional reported seeing the boy being put in the closet. That's when the principal called a meeting with Murray and her son.
“She said, 'Jaiden, tell me what's going on in Ms. Wynn's class'. My son looked at me, I said, 'tell Ms. Davis what's going on'. And, he said, 'well, Ms. Wynn be locking me in the closet…beating me with a spoon, thumping me, and putting me in the bathroom and turning the lights out',” said Murray.
Dr. Roberson says Wynn was immediately put on administrative leave, and that the allegations are not being taken lightly. “Discipline is a good thing, it should be a positive thing, and in this particular case of course that did not happen, and that concerns us,” said Dr. Roberson.
Murray and her mother say there has to be more that can be done, and they'll continue to fight until something more is done.
“If that was me, locking my child in a closet, you would have had my behind locked up within 10 seconds,” said Murray. “I want justice, I want her locked up and I’m not going to stop until Jaiden gets due process.”
Dr. Roberson tells me that the Richmond County Board of Education is currently working in conjunction with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office. He said they will not hesitate on taking further action if the investigation shows that criminal charges will be brought against Wynn.
Murray says she remains concerned that other children may have experienced the same thing. She's asking for counseling for her son by the Board of Education, but says it has yet to be offered. Dr. Roberson tells WJBF News Channel 6 that he will be making sure her son receives the counseling that he needs.