Tracy Drayton, a physical education teacher in Albany, Ga., will keep her job after a 30-day unpaid suspension following surveillance footage that shows her slapping a student.
The school board's unanimous decision to suspend is in line with a recommendation by Turner Elementary School Principal Gail Solomon, but against the superintendent's suggestion to terminate Drayton, according to WALB. The teacher is also required to attend an anger management course before being sent to another school on probationary reassignment.
Surveillance footage from the school gym shows Drayton dragging a kindergartener by the arm across the gym before slapping the student across the face. Drayton's attorney, Howard Stiller, tells FOX 31 that the child was misbehaving and the teacher admits to hitting the student with an open hand, but called the act "a momentary lapse in judgement," the Albany Herald reports.
In a board hearing Tuesday, Solomon testified that Drayton has had a clean record over her 22-year career in the district, adding that the victimized chid has a history of misbehavior and "tantrums."
Still, Dougherty County School System Chair James Bush said the teacher was wrong to have laid her hands on the child, but added that her decades-long record without incidents shows this act was likely isolated and does not necessitate immediate termination.
"What transpired was reprehensible," Bush said, according to WALB. "We don't condone our employees to pull on students. Twenty-two years is a long time and predicated upon the weight of evidence we concurred unanimously with the principal's recommendation."
Drayton has also been charged with assault and battery, a case to be handled by the District Attorney's office.
The case at Turner Elementary is one of many incidents of teacher physicality across the country. Special education teacher Willie Swindle, named 2011 educator of the year in California's North Bay school district, is still teaching in the same classroom following allegations that he physically struck students.
In the case of Santa Rosa High School student Michael Delgado, Swindle reportedly would "flick," "pinch" and "pull" Delgado's ears. The teacher has denied the allegations.
A few states over in Texas, Springtown High School student Taylor Santos said she didn't know a peer had copied her homework, but both students were subject to two days of in-school suspension. Seeking to avoid her second day of suspension, Santos opted for a spanking -- an act that left her bruised and blistered, and that she didn't expect to be administered by her male vice principal. The process violated the school's corporal punishment policy, which dictates that the teacher giving the paddling must be the same sex as the student.
Rather than issuing an apology, the district expanded its policy to allow opposite-sex paddling. Texas is one of 19 states allowing educators to spank students, but 97 of the nation's 100 largest school districts have banned corporal punishment.