Toothpick dispute escalates to confrontation at McKinney school



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Posted on February 6, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Updated Monday, Feb 6 at 10:44 PM

McKINNEY — A box of toothpicks resulted in an unusual incident at a McKinney middle school.

"We brought just normal toothpicks, and we were supposed to bring flat toothpicks," said 14-year-old Noah Prater.

Prater said his 8th grade math and engineering teacher got upset about the wrong supplies Noah supplied for a project, and subsequently ordered him and three other students into the hall to discuss the matter.

"He was screaming and spitting — all sorts of mad — and he was backing me up into lockers because we brought the wrong toothpicks," Noah explained.

The principal at Faubion Middle School put the teacher on paid administrative leave for eight days to investigate.

Last Friday, the district sent Prater’s mother a letter saying it confirmed the conduct occurred, but McKinney ISD reasoned that since no one got hurt, the teacher isn't a threat.

The district then let the teacher return to the classroom.

"That's crap,” said Tami Prater, Noah’s mother. “If it was Noah that pushed the teacher into the locker, he would be expelled immediately."

The district insists the incident was not an assault, but rather a “chest bump.”

By law, McKinney ISD says it has to consider giving the teacher a second chance, and that's what it did in this case.

"While we cannot legally discuss personnel matters, student safety is always our primary concern," a McKinney ISD spokesman said. "If the problem is not remediated, further disciplinary action will occur."

His teacher's action was aggressive and inappropriate, Noah said.

The district proposes putting Noah in the library to study the subject alone, since his mother doesn’t want him to return to this teacher’s supervision. But the 14-year-old said that makes it feel like he is the one being punished since he’s being removed from the classroom rather than the teacher.

Tami Prater worries what this instructor might do next, and she said she’s considering other options. She wants him fired, and is asking the district to create a zero tolerance policy for teachers who bully.

After a meeting with the superintendent on Monday morning, Tami Prater said she was told that administrators agreed to give the teacher a second chance because no one else at Faubion is certified to teach his math and engineering class.

McKinney ISD said the teacher has worked for the district for five years.