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UPDATE: Mother Of PHS Student Reacts To Teacher Coming Back

By: WTAP News, Shannon Houser, Todd Baucher Email
By: WTAP News, Shannon Houser, Todd Baucher Email

UPDATE: 5/16/2013 5:46 PM

A PHS teacher accused of putting a student inside a box and labeling it "bad kid fort," will be returning next year.

It's a nightmare Beth Dean never imagined for her son, a freshman at Parkersburg High School.

"She decided to put him in a Smart Board box and it was surrounded on three sides. After she did that, she decided to write 'bad kid fort' on it."

The teacher responsible, Amanda Terrell, was placed on probation and her contract for next year wasn't going to be renewed.

"That type of behavior isn't something I would think of from an adult, let alone a teacher. It's bullying and intimidating and just not being very nice."

Dean says she felt a sense of relief, knowing her son wouldn't have to see the teacher who he says isolated and bullied him.

"Once they announced they were going to eliminate her position for the following year, my son seemed really relieved that she wasn't going to be in the same building with him for the next three years.

But now, all that's changed. This week, the school board reversed their decision. Terrell will be returning to PHS next year.

"Now that he knows that's not happening, I think he's a little confused and doesn't understand how they could take it away and then bring it back."

The mother says she doesn't know what to do now and is still in shock saying the board is ignoring the concerns of many other parents, too.

"I thought the previous decision was fair. I thought...let her work the rest of the school year. I thought that was fair. I didn't think it was harsh or inconsiderate considering the situation. The board of education, in my opinion, made a very ignorant and uninformed decision."

A decision Dean realizes she can't change and only hopes her family can get past.

"That's damaging. He trusts no one now. He trusts no teachers."

The school board says they made the decision to bring Terrell back after reconsidering the matter.

Superintendent, Dr. Law says the teacher has had no further problems and has done all requirements asked of her.

Dr. Law tells us all teachers have been given additional training on dealing with situations like this one.
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UPDATED: 5/15/2013 5:00PM

The Parkersburg High School teacher at the center of the "bad kid fort" controversy will be back in a PHS classroom next school year.

The Wood County Board of Education is bringing Amanda Terrell back, on a probationary period.

The move was made Tuesday night at the boards regular meeting.

Earlier this school year, Terrell had placed a cardboard sign around a student's desk that said "bad kid fort."

Then in March, following tons of complaints from the parents and others, the board voted not to renew her contract, following a suspension.


UPDATED: 2/13/2013 5:00 PM

"The report that was made from every student is that the idea to name the box was the teacher's idea and the teachers alone. That in my opinion is where it takes it into the level of not right."

Mary Beth Dean says what's not right is the way her son was punished. Last month, the Parkersburg High School special needs student was forced to sit at his desk with a cardboard box surrounding it. That box read, "bad kid fort."

"To take the extra step and to actually name it. It was a students suggestion that she do that. However, the name was no student or my son. That's when it became bullying. It became intimidating. It became a bad bad situation," Dean said as she spoke to Wood County School Board members on Tuesday night.

The mother says her son has a specialized plan in place if he acts up, a plan she says was ignored.

"I don't agree with the situation as a whole because that was never a suggestion in his IEP to do something like that. To separate, segregate, isolate. I would say that probably took up a lot more class time than redirecting him or sending him to one of the special education classrooms which was one of the suggestions in his IEP."

"When a parent comes up with an issue, and it's a big issue it's not a petty complaint, it's a big serious issue. Where do you go? What do you do?"

For weeks, those questions remained unanswered....until now. On Tuesday, The Wood County School Board voted four to one to approve the suspension of the teacher, Amanda Terrell.

"The way it sounds with all the accounts that are in here is almost like it was a class project. 'oh he's acting up again, hey teacher why don't you do this.' 'oh okay, let's go ahead and do that.' And it turned into a project, that, in my opinion is by far way more disruptive than anything my son could have been doing."

This mother isn't stopping at getting justice just for her son, she says there's a problem with the way the school board handles similar issues.

"I think there's a lot of things that go on that maybe get brushed under the rug or don't go through the proper channels. You guys are not made aware of the fact that there are this many issues."

Although controversial for this mom to go public, she believes it's worth it, if it changes the system.

"Since I went public with this whole thing, literally, hundreds of people have come to me and said, 'I've had this issue, I have that issue. I called the school they ignored me. I called the board they ignored me,' and they give up because they don't know what else to do."

She's hoping her message can help other parents, too.

"There needs to be some type of parental group, where parents that have issues like this can get together, present their facts, get their information together and bring it forward to you so that you can be aware."

WTAP reached out to the Wood County School Board for comment. Our phone calls were not immediately returned.

The student was moved to another classroom, and the teacher already served her six day suspension.

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UPDATED: 2/13/2013

The Wood County School Board voted to officially approve the suspension of a special education teacher.

Amanda Terrell was disciplined for putting a cardboard sign around a student's desk that said "bad kid fort."

The parent, Mary Beth Dean' facebook page confirmed the discipline of the board. Officially, the board would not release the name of the teacher, until the minutes of the meeting were posted sometime Monday.

Dean's son has Asperger's syndrome and has an IEP, individualized education plan.

Dean told the board since the story broke, hundreds of parents have come forward with their own stories.

She encouraged the board to set-up a process where parents can get their concerns to them, and not feel their concerns are, "swept under the rug."


UPDATED: 2/13/2013

The Wood County Board of Education got an earful Tuesday evening, as more than six dozen citizens packed into Jefferson Elementary Auditorium for their meeting.

The Wood County Board listened as eight community members addressed them documenting what had happened to their special needs children in their school.

They described what they termed 'abuse' as well as a lack of professional behavior at many levels for years.

A parent of the child placed behind a screen labeled "Bad Kid Fort" thanked the student who had snapped a picture of the box, documenting her child's treatment.

Several adults urged the board to intervene in how the IEP's --Individual Education Plan-- were being implemented.

The board members assured the public that their concerns were being addressed by the administrators and the board.

During the extended public comment section of the meeting the board frequently let speakers stray far beyond the five minute time limit to complete their comments.

No immediate actions were taken regarding either the teacher nor the student discussed.


ORIGINAL STORY: 1/08/2013

A protest Tuesday in front of Parkersburg High School centers around the discipline of a student with aspergers, or high functioning autism.

The mother of the 15-year old boy e-mailed us, saying he was discplined recently with this posterboard put in front of his desk that says "Bad Kid Fort".

Outraged, his mother complained and met with the principal, .the teacher and special education director.

The teacher no longer teaches the boy, but PHS Principal Pam Goots Tuesday declined to discuss the teacher's status further, citing personnel issues.

Still, the family posted the story on Facebook, and Tuesday a protest was held in front of the school, some calling for the teacher to be fired.

"Our goal here is to help him out and make sure this does not happen to another child again."

We spoke with PHS Principal Pam Gootz, who says the teacher in question is a good teacher, who showed poor judgement.

She says the district is requesting extra help in how to teach children with aspergers.

"I sent an e-mail to (Wood County School Superintendent Dr. Patrick Law) yesterday, and I asked him to perhaps look into some training for the staff, Goots said Tuesday morning. "I think as the times change, and we have a lot of different personalities and diagnoses in the classroom, we really need to educate our staff."


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