By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog
MEMPHIS — One of the nation’s largest teachers’ associations is defending a Memphis kindergarten teacher accused of keeping a misbehaving 5-year-old student in a closet.
Even though Memphis police are investigating, the MEA, affiliated with the statewide Tennessee Education Association, told station WREG that people involved have made a bigger deal out of the story than necessary.
IN THE CLOSET: Did a Memphis teacher go too far when she reportedly kept a 5-year-old in a closet at school? A teachers’ organization doesn’t think so.
Tennessee Watchdog left messages with the MEA and the TEA but was unable to speak to representatives before Tuesday’s publication.
MEA President Keith Williams, however, told the station that A.B. Hill Elementary School teacher Kristin Oshfeldt was sick that day and believed she was carrying out an acceptable form of punishment for the girl.
“The child was not out of view of the teacher and that sort of thing, so I guess we’ll all have to wait and see what they come up with,” Williams said.
The 5-year-old said she was in the closet for more than an hour.
“According to the teacher’s association, Oshfeldt defended the disciplinary method, saying she’s put children in that isolated spot before for punishment,” WREG reported.
“She was using a form of isolation that she thought was acceptable to the district and to state standards,” Williams said.
The school district did not comment to the station, but the little girl’s mother told WREG her daughter is traumatized and doesn’t want to go back to school.
Oshfeldt left the school without releasing the girl, according to CBS News. A substitute teacher later found her.
WREG reported that Oshfeldt’s superiors suspended her without pay.
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