SLPS investigating incidents of substitute teachers hitting students

ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Public School District is investigating reports of two separate substitute teachers punching students. One of the substitute teachers faces assault charges.

Tiffany Foster's 10-year-old son is in the fourth grade at Jefferson Elementary School. She was shocked to get a call from the school on Wednesday afternoon, saying her son had been involved in an incident but that it had "been resolved.”

Foster said when she asked for more details, she was told that her son's substitute teacher punched her son and six other students in the class.

According to her son, they were punched because they weren't forming a line fast enough.

"She asked them to stand in line and they didn’t move as quickly as she wanted them, so she took a ruler and got to hitting the kids and punch them in the face," she said.

Foster said she took her son to the doctors because he was complaining of a headache and had swelling under his left eye. The doctor said her son suffered blunt force trauma to his face.

"If you had to put your hand on a child, you don’t need to be a teacher at all," said Foster.

Police are investigating the Jefferson Elementary School incident.

In the second incident, a substitute teacher at Fanning Middle School was charged with assault.

According to court documents, Marjorie Lynn Barker "punched and struck a student," causing the student to "suffer pain in his chest and shin" on December 8.

St. Louis Public Schools are investigating both incidents, according to a statement:

"District protocol in these types of matters include reporting the issue to the Missouri Division of Family Services, placing the employee on immediate leave, conducting an internal investigation by our Administrative Office investigators, and cooperate with local law enforcement..."

Foster said she thinks the school is sweeping her son's incident under the rug. Her advice to parents: "You never know what’s going on in your school. Just watch your babies."

The St. Louis Public Schools said the substitutes were both certified with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and they underwent a background check before working with the district.