Superintendent claims teacher urged students to beat classmate - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Superintendent claims teacher urged students to beat classmate

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By Brian Entin

ST LUCIE COUNTY, FL (WFLX) - Held down, beaten, stomped, and whipped with a belt: The attack on the 7th grader at Northport K-8 was all caught on camera. Now, a longtime teacher and team leader is suspended without pay after allegations she provoked the fight. Plus, new reports in an investigation states she tried to cover it all up.

The St. Lucie County School Board voted Tuesday night to suspend Northport K-8 seventh grade teacher Dru Dehart with no pay. 

The decision comes after the superintendent recommended Dehart's termination following an investigation into a March incident where 7th grader Radravious Williams was allegedly beaten by classmates. 

In the report, one of the students told investigators that Dehart, "Told us to come out here and do this to him".

The investigative report calls Dehart's actions "wholly inappropriate". 

Williams admits to talking disrespectfully to the teacher, but says he did not threaten her in any way. Other students in the class back up his statements. "She is ignorant, and she is a disgrace," Williams' mother Latasha Darrisaw said after the Tuesday night school board meeting. 

Radravious Williams, now at a different school, says he wanted his former teacher to get fired. "There was no reason for her to do what she did. I don't forgive her," Williams said. 

According to the school district, Dehart requested a special hearing. By law, if the hearing is requested, she cannot be immediately terminated. 

She is represented by a union. 

Surveillance video captured part of the March 2012 fight on school surveillance video. 

"Ms. Dehart knew, or should have known, that embarrassing students is not acceptable professional conduct. Likewise, she knew, or should have known, that efforts to intimidate a student are not appropriate," according to the district report. 

New allegations in the district's investigative report say Dehart "tracked down the students during lunch and contaminated their memories" after the fight. 

"Six children went to jail, and, as far as we are concerned, they are victims in this, too. They were manipulated, and they were told to have a certain story," Williams' attorney Dena Sisk Foman said. 

Foman blames the teacher and says she instigated the fight. "It is truly unbelievable what happened. A teacher ordered a hit on a child," Foman said. 

A teacher's union representative at the school board meeting would not comment. Dehart was not answering her Port St. Lucie door Tuesday night. 

Foman says she will file a lawsuit against the district in October. 

According to the investigative report, other teachers should also be counseled because they allowed their students to leave class when asked by different students. 

Other teachers refused to give statements as part of the investigation. 

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