The Kentucky Supreme Court is weighing whether actions by an award-winning educator who disciplined an elementary school student constitute “conduct unbecoming a teacher.”
The case stems from a 2009 incident at Cardinal Valley Elementary School in Lexington.
Teacher Rosaslind Hurley-Richards spotted three students running in the hallway. One of the children, a 7-year-old boy, refused to cooperate and at one point began pulling his sister’s hair. Hurley-Richards then used one hand to guide the student toward the principal’s office, but as the boy resisted, he turned around. The teacher eventually had her hand around the boy’s neck and uppershoulders.
Former Superintendent Stu Silberman felt Hurley-Richards should be fired for conduct unbecoming a teacher. A tribunal later ruled that the teacher be suspended for 18 months, but that decision was overturned by a trial court.
“Engaging in that kind of activity with a second grade child, seven years of age, is not being an exemplar. In fact, it’s demonstrating to that young man that words will be met with physical force,” said attorney Bob Chenoweth, who argued on behalf of the school district before the court today.
Attorney JoEllen McComb, who represents Hurley-Richards, says he suspension was unwarranted
“Unemployment for a year and a half, a loss of wages and benefits for a teacher for a year and half, is a fairly severe penalty; we would submit way more severe than the facts of this case would justify,” she said.
Hurley-Richards had no previous cases of behavior complaints. She earned the prestigious Milken Educator Award in 1996 and was named Kentucky Teacher of the Year in 1997. She now teaches at Liberty Elementary School in Lexington.