MANCHESTER, N.H. – A Manchester teacher didn’t like the way a middle school student was eating candy in class, so she smacked it out of his hand, police said.
The Jan. 29 incident left a scratch on the 14-year-old’s hand, an injury that prompted a paraprofessional to usher the student from class and contact school authorities, WMUR reports.
District officials put Southside Middle School math teacher Anita Lemay, 52, on paid leave Feb. 1 and she turned herself in to police Wednesday to face a misdemeanor assault charge.
A police statement claims the child was causing a disturbance while eating the candy, and Lemay took matters into her own hands.
“He allegedly refused to listen to the teacher, so she allegedly knocked the candy out of his hand, which left a mark on his wrist,” the statement read, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.
The paraprofessional who witnessed the incident immediately removed the boy from class and reported the incident to principal Jennifer Gillis, who relayed the report to the school resource officer, district spokeswoman Andrea Alley told the news site.
Police later determined Lemay “had unprivileged contact with the student,” WMUR reports.
“If somebody is established as the role as the teacher, it is not acceptable to lose your temper (on) a child,” said Sarah Alier, mother of three Southside girls.
Other parents sympathized with Lemay’s position, but agreed that smacking a student isn’t the answer.
“It’s kind of a hard situation. You want to protect your kids but … at the same time, those teachers are there with those kids all day long,” John Anger, father of two Southside students, told WMUR. “They have their hands full with so many students. One student may be acting our and you would hope that they would take the high road and a better path than slapping something out of a student’s hand.”
Lemay, who’s current annual salary is $69,000, has worked for Manchester schools since 1996, mostly at Hookset Memorial School and Hillside Middle School. She transferred to Southside Middle School in September, according to the Union Leader.
People who commented on the situation online offered mixed reactions to the teacher’s plight.
“First the kid should not have had candy in the classroom. That is a district policy,” Jessica Trewhella posted to the Union Leader comments. “However, under no circumstances should teachers touch a student. One the other hand, I understand her frustration. Anita is a good lady, so I feel bad for her. He probably just had had enough, which I understand, but never, ever tough a kid. Ever.”
Paul Lundwall seems to think the teacher deserves an award.
“They arrested her? Are you serious?” he questioned. “I wish more teachers did this. The kids today have little to no discipline and we wonder why they act the way they do. I am sure mom will be on the chopping block next for allowing her kid to eat junk food.”
“The parents of the child should be backing the teacher,” Lloyd Clement added.