A South Carolina teacher retired after she was caught on camera trying to wake up a sleeping student by standing on his desk, nudging him with her foot and pulling his hair.
Veteran teacher Lisa Houston retired from Williamston, South Carolina’s Palmetto High School, where she’d taught for 27 years, after the video of her actions was posted on social media.
In the video, which was apparently filmed during the week of April 26, Houston can be seen standing on the sleeping teen’s desk in the middle of a classroom, surrounded by other seated students who can be heard laughing in the background.
Veteran teacher Lisa Houston retired after 27 years, following the social media release of a video showing her standing on a student’s desk
The video also showed Houston patting the sleeping student’s face with her hand
At various times in the video, Houston pats the student’s face with her hand, stomps her foot on the desk, nudges his chest and shoulder with her foot and pulls his plaited hair. She also uses a sing-song voice to call his name and say, ‘Wake up!’
Meanwhile, the groggy teen attempts to cover his head with a jacket, grunts and makes valiant attempts at going back to sleep.
In a statement to WYFF, Houston said, ‘If you ask any kid I’ve taught, they’ll tell you I kid around with them, make them stay awake and laugh with them.’
She acknowledged that the ‘video looks bad,’ but added that, ‘If you don’t know the situation, you don’t know what’s going on, but it was not a malicious act. It was all in fun. I want the public to know that I love the student, and that our rapport with each other was great. I would have never done anything to hurt him.’
Houston had taught math at the school for 27 years before retiring after the video’s release
Houston said that after the video’s release, the student made a statement to the school. The school district said that the school was not able to reveal the content of the student’s statement for privacy reasons.
Doug Atkins, who resigned as vice chairman of the Anderson School District 1 board in protest of Houston’s treatment by the district’s administration, told the Independent Mail that the teen’s letter indicated ‘that he knows she was teasing and he loved her.’
Assistant superintendent for Anderson District 1, Jane Harrison, said in a statement to WYFF that Houston had ‘an exemplary record of teaching performance,’ but chose to retire ‘of her own accord’ and was doing so ‘in the best interest of her school.’
Atkins disagrees and said that Houston was actually forced out of her job.
‘They told her she had to resign,’ he said. ‘If she hadn’t resigned, she might have ended up getting fired.’
The teen’s father, Julian Johnson, told FOX Carolina that neither he nor his son had called for Houston to be disciplined. In fact, Johnson said that he had been unaware that his son was involved in the incident until school officials called him about it.
‘My son has nothing to do with this. He was tired and went to sleep,’ Johnson said. ‘I didn’t call for her to be fired. I wish it would go away and that it never happened.’
Following Houston’s resignation, locals have banded together in an attempt to get her reinstated.
Houston admitted the video made her actions look bad, but said that it was all done in fun and that she would never hurt the student
Other students can be heard laughing in the video and Houston said that she and the student seen had a good relationship
School officials said that Houston, who taught at Palmetto High School for 27 years, voluntarily retired, but others said that Houston was forced to retire or risk being fired
More than 1,400 people have signed a petition demanding that she be restored to her teaching position.
‘Lisa Houston was wrongly accused of ‘hurting’ and ‘mistreating’ a student, when all she was trying to do was have fun, wake him up, and make him LEARN,’ according to the petition.
In a Facebook post, Regie Eller wrote, ‘Context matters. The whole story matters. Standing up for one of the best of teachers matters. And, oh yeah, sound matters.’ He also added the hashtag, ‘#iftheyfirehoustonwehaveaproblem.’
The initial video release of the incident did not have audio attached to it, which may have helped to cast Houston’s actions in a different light.
In a video, Rippleller Photography, captured the ‘#HoustonStrong’ movement, showing Palmetto High School students protesting Houston’s departure through marching and demonstrations.
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