A special education teacher at a Georgia elementary school was arrested on Monday for allegedly sticking a young autistic boy in a trash can — head first.
The incident occurred on April 30 at Mount Bethel Elementary School in the suburban sprawl north of Atlanta.
The unidentified second-grade boy was participating in an after-school program at the taxpayer-funded school at the time, local Fox affiliate WAGA-TV reports.
According to an arrest warrant for the teacher, Mary Katherine Pursley, the boy had come in from outside “screaming” about a second boy hassling him in some way. He “wouldn’t calm down.”
Pursley, whose actual teaching role that day is not clear, appeared and told the boy he could end up like Oscar the Grouch.
“If he had trashy behavior like Oscar, he’d go to the trash can,” Pursley explained to the autistic boy, according to the warrant.
The boy’s behavior presumably did not change because, next, police say, Pursley picked the boy up by the legs and slowly dropped him into the trash can, until he was in up to his shoulders, despite the boy’s pleas that she stop.
As an aside, Oscar the Grouch is a green, ill-tempered Sesame Street character who lives in a trash can and enjoys trash immensely. Of critical importance, however, Oscar rises head up from his trash can residence. The Muppet’s feet are very rarely seen, however, and no one ever dangles them over a trash can.
Three school employees witnessed Pursley’s actions, police believe.
The single count against the 21-year-veteran teacher is cruelty to a child. It’s a first-degree felony.
After her arrest, she paid a $5,000 bond and was released from custody.
A school district spokeswoman, Jennifer Gates, provided a lengthy comment explaining that the district had no comment.
“It is a personnel matter and no comment can be given,” Gates told The Marietta Daily Journal.
“Safety and security of Cobb students continues to be our No. 1 priority,” she added. “Our attention is on making every remaining day of school for our students safe, healthy, engaging, meaningful and focused on academic excellence.”
Meanwhile, school officials have placed Pursley on administrative leave. With pay.
She makes $68,230 annually.