West High teacher under investigation following student complaint

'We’re still investigating'
2011-10-06T00:00:00Z 2011-11-19T21:06:18Z West High teacher under investigation following student complaint

By ROB ROGERS

Of The Gazette Staff

The Billings Gazette
October 06, 2011 12:00 am  • 

A teacher at West High is on administrative leave after a student complained last week of being disciplined with duct tape.

“We’re still investigating,” said Scott Anderson, executive director of administrative services for School District 2. “We take these things very seriously.”

The incident, which occurred last Thursday, happened in a remedial studies class for students who had fallen behind in their regular course work, said Lisa Morales Nava, the mother of one of the students involved.

According to Nava, a group of five students — including Nava’s daughter — were sitting at a table in the fifth-period class and were supposed to be working on an assignment.

Instead, she said the five students were being disruptive.

“They were talking in class,” she said.

The teacher, after asking them to quiet down, came over with a roll of duct tape, tore off a strip and allegedly stuck it over the mouth of one of the boys, Nava said.

The teacher then set the roll of duct tape down on the desk in front of the other students. Nava said her daughter took that to mean that she and the three remaining students were to place strips of duct tape over their mouths, which they did.

A week later, Nava’s daughter said the incident was probably a joke, saying that the teacher was laughing when it happened.

Nava isn’t so sure. She’s spoken to parents of some of the other students and they’re all taking the incident seriously.

The teacher has had Nava’s daughter in class for three years and this is the first real problem they’ve had, she said.

“She’s been good to my daughter,” Nava said.

Anderson couldn’t comment on any of the specific details of the incident because the investigation is active, he said. But he confirmed that duct tape was involved.

With the duct tape on his mouth, the boy then went to the office at West where he removed the tape and complained to the principal, Nava said.

She said it left red welts around his mouth.

“Thank God my daughter didn’t come home with red marks,” she said.

Nava and her husband have been in contact with the school and are aware the incident is being investigated, for which she said she is grateful.

Contact Rob Rogers at rrogers@billingsgazette.com or 657-1231.

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