Madera teacher investigated for duct tape on students

September 17, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Action News has learned a Valley teacher is under investigation after students say he had them duct tape their mouths in his class.

The Madera Unified superintendent confirmed Tuesday afternoon an elementary school teacher is under investigation.

Around the house, duct tape can be put to all sorts of good use in repairs. In a classroom setting with elementary school students, its use seems more sinister.

"What's usually associated with duct tape is that's usually used to silence somebody, to dominate somebody, to humiliate them," said mother Natalie Kaitangian.

All those scenarios ran through her mind Friday when her daughter came home from school. The 9-year-old said teacher Jack Bush was encouraging students to put duct tape over their mouths during a lesson.

"I asked her 'Was it because you were talking?'" Kaitangian said. "She said, 'No. We were quiet.' She said 'We were being rewarded.' And I said that doesn't make sense to me. She said 'It doesn't make sense to me either. I felt uncomfortable.'"

Natalie and her husband, Ray, took their complaint straight to the Parkwood Elementary School principal's office.

They say administrators seemed confused, but explained that Mr. Bush was using the duct tape as an incentive or reward.

"Honestly, for them to be tricked into thinking it was something positive, that's not right," said mother Crystal Martinez. "No kid should think this is a good thing."

Martinez saved a piece of tape she had to rip off her son's face Friday. But when she and the Kaitangians complained, administrators encouraged them to take it up with the school district, so a letter went out Monday.

The Kaitangians's daughter was removed from his class. Martinez's son is still in it, though, and both mothers feel other parents are too afraid to report that it also happened to their kids. Their two families, though, say they'll keep pushing the district to action.

"I expect to get an answer and for there to be a reprimand," said father Ray Kaitangian.

Bush transferred to Parkwood this year from Adams Elementary.

Teachers in Ohio, Texas, and the Bay Area have been accused of using duct tape on students' mouths this year.

Each of those cases has resulted in a lawsuit or punishment for the teacher.

This one is under investigation.


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