Ariz. teacher who locked students in closet returns to class

An Arizona public school teacher who locked three students in a closet for more than 30 minutes will return to class after a brief 19-day suspension.

But several parents have condemned the leniency of the teacher’s punishment, instead demanding that he be fired outright.

“If I locked my kids in a closet it would be child abuse,” said an unidentified mother of one of the students, according to The Arizona Daily Sun. “There would be legal consequences. There are no legal consequences for him. Whatever discipline he’s going to receive is apparently getting watered down step by step.”

Sheldon White, an art teacher at Williams High School in Williams, Ariz., became frustrated with students repeatedly attempting to enter a classroom storage closet. Eventually, he locked three of the students in the closet for over half an hour.

According to one of the trapped students, White enlisted other students to help him keep the closet door shut.

“He had several students hold the door shut while he put up boards and rope, that’s what we saw when we were pulling the door back,” said Sage Hoag, one of the students trapped in the closet, in an interview with KPNX. “He eventually got the boards stuck to where we couldn’t open it at all.”

The Williams Police filed criminal charges against White for unlawful imprisonment, but the Coconino County Attorney’s Office decided not to prosecute.

“By statute, we felt [the actions] were criminal, but we investigated the case and filed it with the County Attorney’s Office and they didn’t file charges,” said Williams Chief of Police Herman Nixon, in a statement.

The school board decided to allow White to return to teaching after he completes a 19-day suspension without pay, citing his previously clean record.

Williams High School directed questions to district Superintendent Rachel Savage, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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