HARRIMAN, Tenn. — The director of the Roane County schools said a March incident in which a kindergarten teacher had students oink like pigs at a messy classmate was a black eye on the schools.
Teacher Debbie Hayes was given a letter of reprimand and a one-day suspension last month after the incident at Bowers Elementary school, according to The Knoxville News Sentinel.
Dr. Toni H. McGriff, director of the county school system, said the incident on March 16 was "simply unbelievable."
Hayes, who has taught kindergarten in Roane County for 38 years, could not be immediately reached on Wednesday. A secretary at the school declined to take a telephone message for her. A message was left at a telephone listing for Deborah Hayes in Kingston.
Another teacher walked into Hayes' classroom and saw children standing around a crying boy and making pig noises. That teacher told principal Candace Lett what was seen Hayes and Lett met with McGriff the next day to discuss it
During that meeting, Hayes said she was "tired of the student's messiness," according to the reprimand.
In her reprimand letter, McGriff told Hayes she was "appalled with the actions in this situation."
Students told school officials Hayes had told them to make a circle around the child and "call him a pig and make pig noises," according to the reprimand letter.
"To have this happen is simply unbelievable and undermines everything we try to teach children about how to treat each other," the reprimand letter states.
Hayes's one-day suspension was effective March 18.
The newspaper reported the only documents in the veteran teacher's personnel file were the reprimand letter and her employment application. Hayes formerly taught in the Harriman City School System, which no longer exists, coming under county schools employment in April 2003.
McGriff said the taunted child's mother declined an offer to transfer him to another classroom.