Teacher who allowed bullying was 'tired'August 29, 2012 @ 7:20 pm (Updated: 7:43 pm - 8/29/12 )
The teacher who allowed a bullying attack in his Gig Harbor classroom explained the 'horseplay' a letter to the school district's attorney, saying it happened the morning after he "came into class a bit tired from a lack of sleep the previous night."
Cell phone video from students captured the incident in a Kopachuck Middle School in February. The video was given to The Tacoma News Tribune this week after parents found out teacher John Rosi was only suspended for 10 days and then reassigned to another school.
The video shows a 13-year-old being dragged around the classroom. It also shows several students stacking chairs on top of the boy, a classmate putting a sock in his mouth and others sitting on him while he is held by his arms and legs.
These photos are screen grabs from an edited video students at Kopachuck Middle School shot in February 2012. The video was provided to The News Tribune by the parents of the student who was bullied. They want the teacher fired.
Following the incident, the boy, now 14 and attending a private school, told his parents he was thinking about suicide.
The acting Peninsula School District Superintendent Chuck Cuzzetto says he's horrified by what he saw on the video, and the teacher displayed 'inappropriate classroom management." The teacher wasn't fired because administrators thought his performance over 18-years with the district was good.
Rosi explained in a letter - dated February 10, 2012 - his version of what happened. Ironically, he said the class had been "very busy discussing short stories from the Book of Virtues. He described his students as being "consistently" and "diligently" working.
Then on February 2nd, "I came into class a bit tired from lack of sleep the previous night," he wrote. "After the flag salute, I turned around and (name redacted) jumped on the back of (another student) on the choir stage. The choir stage is a large open area that is uncluttered by desks or other obstructions. Next (another student) and a few other boys began wrestling and horse playing with one another. There was absolutely no punching or potential harmful play. I told the kids not to hurt one another and let them wrestle around a bit. (The victim) absolutely went along with the horseplay and never once complained or instructed anyone to stop. In fact, (the boy) and the other boys all appeared to be having fun wrestling around and playing with eachother. None of the kids involved gave any indication they were being harmed or were made to feel uncomfortable by their interactions."
Rosi says he was aware kids were capturing video on camera phones. In all, the incident took about 14 minutes. He then brought the class back into order and they went about their planned lesson. Again he reiterates, "Not one student complained about being sore, hurt, assaulted or this being a form of child abuse."
He also says he's experienced enough to know the difference between someone getting hurt and 'horseplay.' He adds he realizes the classroom was "not an appropriate setting to allow the kids to engage in horseplay. I sincerely apologize that I permitted this incident to occur within my class. I will certainly view it as a learning experience for me as a teacher."
The boys parents aren't satisfied. They want the teacher fired, and want the case investigated as a potential crime.
By LINDA THOMAS
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