The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 23, 2014

Shik parent plans to file complaint against teacher

By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item

LEWISBURG — SUNBURY — During a Shikellamy school board work session Thursday night, a concerned parent searching for answers about why her 5-year-old boy allegedly received corporal punishment after an incident at an elementary school was shut down by the board president.

So Jennifer O’Halloran, the mother, said she was going to file a complaint with the Pennsylvania Department of Education against a kindergarten teacher.

At the meeting, O’Halloran asked for a clarification of school policy regarding corporal punishment and restraint. She wondered why school rules regarding restraint are different for general education kids versus special education children.

Superintendent Pat Kelley admitted to O’Halloran that there is not a clear policy on restraining students, but he did not go into detail about the incident, which allegedly was caught on film during school last Friday at the Chief Shikellamy Elementary School. The school has a video system in the hallways but not classrooms. The incident allegedly occurred in a classroom but spilled into a hallway.

O’Halloran was upset because her child had been restrained and is “afraid to go back to school,” she said. “He’s terrified.”

James P. Hartman, school board president, listened politely to O’Halloran but continually directed her to meet with Kelley “because this is not an issue the board normally deals with. There is a complaint policy. We would refer you to our superintendent, who is in charge with day-to-day operations. I’m going to ask you to schedule an appointment with our superintendent.”

O’Halloran said she has met with him twice and was not satisfied with the answers she received.

At this point, O’Halloran left the meeting, but she still had much to say.

“When I was called by the school, I was a wreck, crying and scared,” she said after the meeting. “When my son told me what happened, what he described versus what I had been told were two different stories. I did see a video of what happened in the hallway, and again, what I had been told was different from what I saw on the video. That’s why I’m so frustrated. I just want to get to the truth.”

Earlier in the day, two school directors were contacted and said they were not made aware of the situation by Kelley and wanted to reserve comment until they had heard what had happened.