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Teachers from Hell

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Two shocking cases shed light on just how cruel some teachers can be to our children.


We send children to school for academics, not for abuse. But abuse is exactly what two students got from their teachers recently. In Florida, a kindergarten teacher had students vote last week whether a 5-year-old boy should be allowed to stay in class or not. (What is this--school or Survivor? "The tribe has spoken"?)

Alex Barton, who was recently diagnosed with autism, was asked to stand in front of the classroom. Alex later told his mom that the teacher then told the class, "Tell Alex why we hate him." And, one by one, that's exactly what the kids did. Then they voted him out of the classroom, 14-2. Shocking.


Another kindergarten teacher from Indiana was caught on tape berating a 5-year-old student for several minutes in front of the class. After Gabriel Ross complained for months that his teacher was mean to him, the boy's parents sent him to school one day last month with a running tape recorder in his pocket. When the parents got the tape back, they were horrified by what they heard.

Both children have been voluntarily taken out of school by their parents. Alex's teacher has been reassigned out of the classroom to the district offices pending an investigation into the matter. Gabriel's teacher has been suspended and placed on paid administrative leave while school officials conduct an investigation.

What should you do if you suspect your own child is being abused by a teacher?

Psychologist Dr. Lisa Boesky says there are three steps parents should follow:

Talk to the teacher to clarify the situation.
If you're concerned about anything that's going on in the classroom or with you child, you shouldn't hesitate to talk directly with the teacher. Listen to your gut instinct, and set up a meeting ASAP.

Stay calm.
Don't storm in to the teacher's office acting accusatory or demanding. Instead, calmly, kindly, and directly communicate your concerns.

If you're not satisfied, go to the principal.
You'll know within the first five minutes if you are getting a straight answer from your child's teacher or not. If you aren't happy with the results of your meeting with the teacher, it's time to go over the teacher's head and set up an appointment with the principal.

If your kid's had a "teacher from hell," how did you deal with it?

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29 comments so far | Post a comment now
Pissed Off Momma May 29, 2008, 9:04 PM

I’d raise holy hell is what I’d do! It’s DISGUSTING how these “teachers” feel they can destroy a child’s self-esteem because they can. Who the hell do they think they are?

And worse, these abuses affect a person FOREVER. If you don’t believe me, then think on this:



Stephanie May 29, 2008, 9:11 PM

Ridiculous! They shouldn’t be teachers. No matter how difficult a child may be at times, those are things you do not say to them!

SG489 May 29, 2008, 10:44 PM

When teachers make mean remarks and embararass a child from the classroom to the public should BE FIRED!!!!!!!!


Momof2 May 29, 2008, 11:19 PM

You are all taking this situation out of context. I agree that the teacher should not have made a public mockery of the child, HOWEVER, what has the child done day after day after day after day? Is he somewhat deserving of a little critical thinking? We all tip toe around children and put them on a pedestal (i.e. not allowed to spank in the classroom or even threaten to spank, nor can they be kicked out of school), but what is the teacher suppose to do?

Since I work in a school, I offer the following: I would have suggested he be timed out in a separate classroom, then a book would be read in his classroom with his fellow classmates, he would be asked to return to the class and then asked about the book (that he wasn’t present to have heard). When he can’t answer the questions about the book, make THAT the example for the child “when you misbehave you earn a time out and then YOU MISS CLASS TIME which makes you not know the answer when you are called on”.

New Girl May 29, 2008, 11:29 PM

True, I *DO* remember all my mean teachers in both elementary (Mrs. Roth, 4th and Mr. Deroche, 6th) and high school (Mrs. Finn, 10th). But I can’t really remember any of the other teachers clearly. You, Pissed Off Momma, made a good point.

Barbara May 30, 2008, 2:02 AM

Momof2…I do not care *what* this child did on a daily basis. There is nothing he could have done to excuse such abhorrent behavior from anyone…much less the “professional” expected to help him learn and grow. This “woman” (for lack of better word) sounds like she has the mentality of a 12-year old bully. There are light years of difference between encouraging “critical thinking” and mockery and degradation. She needs to be fired and barred from teaching ever again. It is mind boggling that anyone would even have the desire to defend such a person. Absolutely disgusting.

ashley May 30, 2008, 8:02 AM

Momof2: these are 5 year olds we’re talking about. Critical thinking doesn’t apply. My son just finished kindergarten and we were blessed to have a wonderful teacher who handled his behavioral problems wonderfully. She would send home, on a sheet of paper aface and she would draw either a smile or a frown or sometimes half and half depending on his behavior that day along with a note explaining what he did wrong. So that we knew what was going on. After about two months he stopped getting sad faces and at the end of November she didn’t even have to send home a report. That is a much better way to handle 5 year olds. That is something they can understand.

Karen Putz / DeafMom May 30, 2008, 8:58 AM

There’s only one word for both of these teachers:


As for the second teacher, they’ve got it recorded, what needs to be “investigated?”

MIsha May 30, 2008, 12:16 PM

So you would use humilitation to correct the behavior?
Nice. Real nice.
Positive re-enforcement works with these kids. Not humilitation.
I know. I’m the parent to a kid with autism who has great behavior. Sometimes better then the “typical” kids.
Clearly, school staff need better training.

Christen May 30, 2008, 5:29 PM

Momof2 is JUST LIKE the teachers in the story, although her emotional abuse techniques are slightly more involved. Ugh!

Anonymous May 30, 2008, 5:32 PM

Alot of my daughter’s teachers were a-holes. I’m glad she is done with school and I don’t have to deal with it any more.

Carol May 30, 2008, 9:25 PM

Sometimes a little bit of info can be a very dangerous thing. Though we only hear a portion of this tape, it is clear that this little soul has caused some grief within his class. That teacher however, has clearly not finished her own education, and therefore should also be removed from the classroom, including the paycheck that goes with it. OUTRAGEOUS

elizabeth May 31, 2008, 11:36 PM

I remember my worst teacher for being unfair and leading the students by example in teasing me. I was in 6th grade and wasn’t “getting” the science and math that was being taught. I was insulted verbally by the teacher and my desk was permanently moved right beside her. Thanks for making 6th grade horrible, Mrs. Prosser!

marian davis June 1, 2008, 10:24 AM

my son was in the 3rd grade and his teacher,had a meltdown (she was way too old mentally to teach, and the school knew it, and was ready to retire) she grabbed a chair and threw it down the aisle between the desks the children were sitting in, my son was in the line of fire. He came home with cuts all over him and he told me what happened, and I went to school as fast as I could get there, I won’t go into all I said to the principal, but they knew I had arrived, and they would not let me see the teacher, I’m sure they knew I was mad enough to slam her to the floor which I would have done. I questioned the parents of the other children and the childen in the class to see if Steve had provoked her and they all said NO, that another child had made her mad, and she threw the chair right at Steve. Thats how messed up she was. My only regret is that I didn’t have her arrested and sent to jail. I was young and upset and didn’t know what to do, I just knew I had to take care of my child and get him over the trauma. WE trust our precious children with these teachers, I believe every teacher that abuses a child should be sent to jail!!!period.

SG489 June 3, 2008, 7:25 PM

The reason that violence influence our children and teens is that it’s coming from our own words. Educators and Teachers. No Doubt!!!!!

erin June 12, 2008, 9:34 PM

I am a teacher, just like momof2. However, there is nothing that any child can say or do on any given day that gives me the right to treat him/her in any negative way - especially the way these teachers acted. It is part of my job to be a role model for students and show them how to respond appropriately to certain situations or other students. I am not merely in the classroom for academics, but to be someone my students can look up to, rely on, trust, and to be a protector. Should the teachers be fired - absolutely 100%! How could the district even consider letting them even speak to another child, let alone teach them!

Donna mcmahan June 13, 2008, 11:47 PM

Hello,My name is Donna Mcmahan. The brave litle five year old that took the recorder to school is my grandson gabriel lee Ross. There is so much behind this story and eventually everyone will find out in months to come. As of now Gabriel is seeing a counselor for the time being. No one knows what all was in the recording that took place on Gabriel’s last day at school. On the recording his teacher said mean things to other children in the class and she said and done things to gabriel that has not got out yet.Not once did he act out,or throw a fit,all he did was cry and cry. This is not about his behavior, it is about a teacher who had no patience, guidance or encouragement to provide him with a safe environment. What we do know now is that this was not a isolated incident. This took place all through his kindegarden year. A week before the recording, I had picked Gabriel up from school. I asked him about his day at school. He said; Grandma I think I got a sad face today. Then he goes to say that the teacher was not telling the truth. I did not question him, because I already knew she was saying and doing mean things to him. He told us time and time again. All I knew at that point is that if we went to the principle or teacher that nothing would of been done and gabriel would of got all the blame.I had alreay heard from other parent’s that Mrs. Woodward was not a very nice teacher and she had done things to other children before this incident. On that evening I was so upset and went to Gabriel’s house and talked to Tabitha and J.R. and told them then that we needed to do something before his teacher hurts him. Thats when J.R. said he was getting the recorder. He went and got it that night. When it all came down to who to believe,I believed Gabriel.I can still remember meeting her at Gabriel’s first conference something in the back of mind told me not to trust her.I had this gut feeling that she was not the kind of teacher for this school. But I sat their and listened to her tell my daughter that Gabriel would not sit still or listen and she wanted him to get counseling. I did not agree with it,but who am I to say to a teacher who made us believe she was looking out for the best interest for Gabriel. I did make a comment about him being in all day kindegarden for six hours and that he needed to get out to run and play. I told her Gabriel is an athletic little boy. She acted like she didn’t care. I told tabitha and J. R. I did not like her attitude at all or what she was saying. Now since all the publicity and getting it on the news more parent’s of children have came forward from S.Ellen Ellen Jones school and from a school she taught at before. All the things that I have heard in the last few weeks has really hurt me so deeply and it breaks my heart that so many children have endured the abuse from this teacher. I am really thankful for Gabriel for being brave enough to go to school all day with the recorder, take all that abuse and prove to us he was all along telling the truth about his teacher. Shame on anyone who thinks that any teacher has a right to subject a child to any verbal or physical abuse. The saddest thing of it all is that gabriel did not get to graduate from his kindegarden class with all his friends. No certificate, no wonderful memories that we would all cherish about him in his first year at school. I want people to know that I love S. Ellen jones school and what it stands for me. This was a family school and all the teachers we had were wonderful, caring and encouraging.I attended this school and so did my seven brother’s and four other sisters. I have four children who also went to school at S. Ellen Jones. Thank you

observerist August 9, 2008, 7:13 PM

Mrs. Durdle in 1st grade used to shake us when she got good and pissed. Violently, by the upper arms. This was 1970. Mrs. Johnson in 2nd was a mean old battleaxe dying of cancer who paddled all the boys and yelled at us constantly. They’re both pushing up daisies now and I’ve never shed a tear over ‘em.

Teachers, think about how your students will remember you when they become adults.

hjazwlum xjyrgkih September 7, 2008, 10:47 AM

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SINGER September 9, 2008, 1:11 PM

If ANYONE thinks there is any excuse for what that teacher did, they need help to. That teacher is sick and needs Psychological help IMMEDIATELY! Every single one of them should apologize to little Alex. When you have an autistic child, PATIENCE is what is needed and UNDERSTANDING period!

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