The Associated Press, December 10, 1998

Parents say teacher tapes students' mouths shut

EVERGREEN, Ala. (AP) -- Elizabeth Davis said that since she reported seeing a student in a classroom doorway with his mouth taped shut, she has been harassed by Conecuh County school officials.

"I'm not trying to bring down the school," said Davis, a teacher at Marshall Elementary School. "School officials have chosen to attack me instead of dealing constructively with the problem."

Three mothers claim their children's mouths were taped for long periods of time by a teacher at the school, but neither they nor school officials will identify the teacher.

Theresa Mims said her 10-year-old son had his mouth taped shut as punishment for talking in class. She said she knows her son can be difficult, but that punishment went too far.

"My son has asthma and other breathing problems, and this form of punishment could have been life-threatening for him," Ms. Mims said. "That was never in the discipline form they sent for me to sign."

At a Conecuh County school board meeting Monday night, board member Jimmy Taylor asked to discuss "disciplinary actions parents felt were inappropriate" while keeping names confidential. Taylor said he has received complaints, and confirmed after the meeting that Ms. Mims and other mothers had reported the taping incidents to the board.

Superintendent Ronnie Brogden said Tuesday he was unfamiliar with Ms. Mims' complaint. He declined to say if any students' mouths were taped.

Brogden told The Mobile Register last month that taping students' mouths was not acceptable and declared "that is not happening in our system."

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