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Carrollton school bans bear crawl punishment after students injured

A parent says her daughter was forced to do bear crawls at Harmony Science Academy in Carrollton and has the injuries to prove it.
Student shows injuries from bear crawling

CARROLLTON — Harmony Science Academy has banned using a certain exercise as punishment after a parent said their child was injured.

A parent whose child attends the Carrollton school contacted News 8 about the incident. Harmony Science Academy is a public charter school.

Gloria Martinez said all of the students in a seventh grade physical education class were forced to do bear crawls last week because some students in the class were misbehaving.

Wednesday morning, she said she was not completely satisfied with the school's response. She believes what the teacher did is a form of child abuse.

Martinez provided pictures of her 12-year-old daughter's hands. She said she came home with blisters after doing the bear crawls on a soccer field that is under construction. Martinez said the field was dotted with gravel and rocks and the pain was so severe that her daughter was in tears afterward.

"She actually was found crying in the bathroom, distraught, "said Martinez. "That's when another student told her she needed to go to the nurse."

Martinez claimed her daughter could not do her homework and received a failing grade because of it. She also said her daughter was not one of the students misbehaving in class. She believes the teacher should face some sort of punishment.

"I feel like he should be suspended. This is too harsh of a punishment to be put on a bunch of 12-year-olds to make them crawl across the hot ground, "she said.

Martinez said she even called Child Protective Services to report the incident and said if a parent had done the same thing they would be investigated for abuse.

One other student also had similar injuries.

News 8 contacted the school. The Dean of Students, Tina Stephens, said in an email that the teacher demonstrated the proper way to do the exercise and only gave it out as punishment, when despite several warnings, students continued disrupting class.

"Although the teacher demonstrated to the students the correct way to perform the exercise, the students still suffered minor scrapes and developed some blisters," she said.

Stephens said parents were notified immediately and the students were treated by nurses at school.

"We make every effort to safeguard our students from injury." Stephens said. "As a result of this incident, this exercise has been banned as a form of discipline in P.E. class."

The school is also conducting an internal investigation into the incident.

Timothy Lankford, a communications specialist working for the school, emailed the following statement:

"The school is continuing to collect statements from both the teacher and administrators at HAS-Carrollton. No determination has been made as to any possible sanctions the teacher involved may face."

In June, several teens suffered second degree burns after performing bear crawls at a junior high school in Emory.


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