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Linda Thomas

Parents, students defend 'horseplay' teacher

The Gig Harbor teacher, who's being investigating after students captured video of bullying in his classroom, is now getting support from parents and former students.

Cellphone video from February was released to the Tacoma News Tribune showing John Rosi's out-of-control classroom.

The video shows a 13-year-old student being dragged around a Kopachuck Middle School classroom. It also shows several students stacking chairs on him while he is held by his arms and legs. The 14 minute incident happened in front of the teacher.

GigHarbor

Screen grab from student video taken February at Kopachuck Middle School


The victim's parents say he was bullied and even thought about suicide after the incident. They want him fired.

Now people are coming to Rosi's defense.

Former student Stephen Manjarrez tells KING 5 , "He was one of my favorite teachers. I was just really shocked."

When Manjarrez was in Rosi's class six years ago, he said they'd "mess around" often.

The incident was just "horseplay" according to Rosi's attorney. "Had parents not gotten involved in this it would have been horseplay, and it would have been forgotten," Bryan Hershman told KING.

There's also a new Facebook page offering some support called Bring Back Mr. Rosi, which looks like it was slapped together without much care. The photo, for example, is sideways. There are 266 "likes" of support.

"I've known Rosi for a long time. I was 5 when I met him and he has been a family friend for a long time. He is a big kid at heart! I know his actions were not PC but were also not meant in any way as disrespect," writes Don Donnelly.

Scott Evans posts, "Screw the media, and all the hype on this one people. Ive known John for over 30 years now. Yes he is a big kid at heart. And a great man. So lighten up on the goof ball."

On the page, students and parents are also debating whether horseplay, as the teacher called it in an apology letter, is okay in school.

Janine Weber writes, "It is easy to judge when you only hear one side of any story and a video clip that only shows part of the incident. This type of media attention promotes frivolous lawsuits, defamation of charter, and teaches our young people that they are not responsible for their own behavior. It does nothing to help this young man (or others) learn how to get along in society or to teach him (or other young people) how to avoid negative attention in the future."

Colin Guthrie points out there are clear boundaries that teachers must not cross. "The law requires teachers NOT to touch ANY student at any time; unless the school district authorizes such contact; and whenever physical contact is made, direct permission from parents/legal guardians MUST grant this as well as district authorization must be made in writing; and written documentation must be done each and every time such physical contact is made."

Rosi was suspended for 10 days without pay and moved to a different middle school within the district. Administrators have called the bullying an "isolated incident" in his 18-year career as a teacher.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Office is investigating.

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About Linda
Linda is the morning news anchor and features reporter for KIRO Radio. This is her local news blog, with an emphasis on social media, technology, Northwest companies, education, parenting, and anything else that grabs her attention.

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