Schools are institutions that parents, for the most part, trust implicitly. They’re supposed to be staffed by caring people who have devoted their lives to forming their children and helping them become educated citizens.
So when a teacher does something cruel to a child, it’s not only wrong, it’s a breach of trust in the worst sort of way, up there with religious manipulation.
Barb Williams was the teacher in question. She had been teaching for a decade in Hancock County.
Anyone with that long of a teaching history should know how important teacher-student interactions are.
But for some reason, on a day in May last year, this teacher lost it. Maybe the kids were driving her nuts, maybe she was tired of grading, or perhaps she hadn’t gone for that second cup of coffee and really should have.
No matter what the reason, there is really no good reason that would excuse her actions. The student who suffered at her hands was 6-year-old Ian Nelson.
Ian’s parents, Anthony and Autumn, were not made aware of the teacher’s actions until much later on. And apparently Ian wasn’t going to spill the beans either — he was probably terrified of getting in even more trouble.
It’s safe to say, though, that his parents were absolutely shattered when they found out just how their son had been mistreated.
Ian had been on his way to or from the bathroom when Williams intercepted him. It’s unclear why she was confronting him, but she wasn’t willing to “use her words,” and quickly got physical with the young boy.
Williams can be seen picking Ian up and pushing him against the wall, while probably talking harshly as well. Then she grabs his face, wrapping her whole hand tightly around his chin and forcing him to look at her.
As if that weren’t enough, she soon had the poor boy by the shirt, lifting him into the air and causing his head to slam back into the wall behind him. He was left with a bruise on the back of his head, but the frightened kid didn’t try to resist her.
The whole time, her body language is extremely confrontational. She stares into his eyes just inches from his face, seemingly oblivious to the fact that every movement was being caught on camera.
The school framed the incident as minor, which led the Nelsons to believe that it wasn’t of much importance. Until they viewed the supplied surveillance footage.
“We thought it was just a little incident that happened, and that’s what the school made it out to sound like,” the distraught father said. “And then all of a sudden we get this video today and this is just outrageous.”
He said it was ridiculous that the school was downplaying the seriousness of the teacher’s actions, especially because, as Anthony said, “If I were to do that to her, I would go to jail.”
The parents are now pursuing legal action against this teacher, asking for her to be removed from her position. The school initially sidestepped the issue, claiming that she was one of their top teachers and they were not interested in removing her.
They also refused the parents’ request to have their son moved to a class with another teacher. Since that time the school has filed reports with multiple agencies, including CPS and the Department of Education.
Whatever the outcome, we hope Ian’s future school experiences will all be positive, and that he will be able to participate in school environments that foster learning rather than fear.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.