Two Louisiana elementary school teachers face criminal charges for bullying an 11-year-old student for months, going so far as to tell the child, “Go and kill yourself,” authorities said.
Tracy Gallow, 50, and Ann Marie Shelvin, 44, teachers at Washington Elementary School, threatened to fail kids who wouldn’t fight the 11-year-old, and one was caught on school video shoving the girl into gymnasium bleachers, the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Wednesday.
The 11-year-old’s mother contacted the sheriff about Shelvin in February, but said the bullying began in October, the sheriff’s office said. Deputies directed her to the school board.
Less than two months later, the mother returned to the sheriff’s office, saying that Shelvin tried to goad three students into fighting the girl by threatening to fail them, and that the teacher encouraged the 11-year-old to kill herself, the sheriff’s office said.
One student who fingered the teacher as the instigator of a brawl that sent several students to the principal’s office told investigators Shelvin ordered her to fight or lose help with classwork, “just like she refuses to help the 11-year-old,” the sheriff’s statement said. The child reportedly told deputies “she was scared that she would be treated like the 11-year-old and would fail the 7th grade,” according to the statement.
At one point, school officials yanked Shelvin from her class because of the allegations, and a guard escorted her off school grounds.
Gallow was assigned to take over the class. She also took over the abuse, according to the sheriff.
Gallow “started pulling, pushing and yelling” at one of the students who reported Shelvin’s bullying to the principal, the sheriff’s statement said. She was twice caught on video shoving the 11-year-old into bleachers, according to the statement. She admitted one of the assaults, saying “she felt she was too upset to go start her testing,” the sheriff said.
Shelvin was charged with two counts of malfeasance, simple battery, intimidation and interference in school operation, and was jailed on $2,000 bond. Gallow faces charges of malfeasance, simple battery, intimidation and interference in school operation. She was ordered held on $1,500.
Both teachers have been on administrative leave for several weeks as school officials investigate.
“We want to assure the school community that we take reports of this nature very seriously and will do everything in our power to protect the health, safety and welfare of all students,” parish schools Superintendent Patrick Jenkins said in an emailed statement.
“Students should not have to attend school and be bullied especially by teachers that are there for their education, guidance and safety,” Sheriff Bobby Guidroz said in a statement. “The parents did the right thing, they reported it to the school board, and continued to monitor and talk to their children. The bullying continued and they took the next step by contacting law enforcement again.”