Spingarn High School Principal Gary Washington says there is more to the story of the teacher who was attacked in her classroom last month by a special education student. Prior to the incident, according to Washington, the teacher told the 16-year-old girl to “shut up” and “go to sleep.”
“The teacher made a few inappropriate comments,” Washington said in an interview late Friday. “That doesn’t give the child the right to put her hands on a teacher, but you can’t tell kids to shut up and go to sleep.”
Washington also said that Washington Teachers’ Union president Nathan Saunders exaggerated the extent of the teachers’ injuries when he said she would need reconstructive facial surgery.
“There was no hospitalization. She went to the hospital as a precaution. She got hit in the neck and part of the face,” he said.
Washington also acknowledged that school staff knew little about the girl’s background when she arrived at the school from The Pines, a Virginia residential treatment center.
“We’ve been encouraged to enroll anyone who comes to the door who lives in the neighborhood,” Washington said. “There wasn’t a whole lot of information from the parents that was given to us.”
Saunders said he was “disappointed” in Washington’s statements.
“First of all, principal Washington is not a doctor,” Saunders said. “He has a material interest in maintaining the perception that Spingarn is a safe environment.”
Saunders said the real question — which Washington appears to have answered — is whether the school knew enough about the background of a new special education student prior to her enrollment.
The District has been trying to draw down the number of special education students in costly private placements and “reintegrate” them into the public school system. The city also has other reasons for getting kids out of The Pines, which has a disturbing history of abuse and neglect violations, exposed last month by Washington City Paper’s Jason Cherkis.