Mother Says WWK8 Teacher Battered Her Son, Authorities Have Taken no Action
WEEKI WACHEE (R News) – There is supposed to be zero tolerance for violence in Hernando County Schools, but one parent says a Winding Waters K-8 (WWK8) teacher got away with battering her son twice without consequence.
According to Kris Evans, her then-6-year-old son Joey is a first grader at WWK8, and she tells R News that his teacher Kimberle McFarlane attacked him two times since September - one time leaving a large bruise on his arm.
Evans says the first time it happened was on September 26th when McFarlane grabbed Joey's arm causing an obvious bruise. Her son says, "The teacher grabs students when they get the wrong answer." Evans immediately contacted the school's Principal, Mrs. O'Rourke, and was told that she would investigate the incident. Evans says she was told that because the teacher is an immigrant from Jamaica she might have different methods of controlling students.
Another incident happened on October 11th when Evans says McFarlane crumpled up Joey's homework and screamed in his face for getting the wrong answer. Evans again reported the incident to the Principal.
On October 23rd, Evans contacted Mrs. O'Rourke to inquire about the investigation and was told that she had taken care of the problem. Evans says O'Rourke explained to the teacher that she could not put her hands on the children, but the very next day it happened again.
According to Evans, her son could not find a page in his book, so McFarlane grabbed his jaw and shook his head back and forth while screaming at him. That evening, Evans says her son came home crying because the McFarlane told him not to say anything to his parents or he would get in trouble.
That same evening, Evans contacted the Sheriff's Office and a deputy responded to their home. Evans says the deputy told her there was nothing he could do because it happened on school grounds and that she would have to report it to the School Resource Officer (SRO).
The next day, Evans says her husband Timothy went to the school and demanded answers from the Principal and the SRO. That's when Evans says they finally escorted McFarlane off school grounds to conduct an investigation. Evans also withdrew their son and another child from WWK8 until the conclusion of the investigation.
The Department of Children and Families was notified, and they interviewed Evans and her son at their residence to rule out abuse at home, which they did, says Evans.
Today, Evans says her children pleaded with her to let them go back to school, so she decided to reenroll them, with the condition that they avoid all contact with McFarlane. To her surprise, McFarlane was back teaching in the classroom without Evans being informed of the outcome of their investigation.
Evans contacted R News today and we began our investigation.
According to Hernando County Schools Spokesperson Karen Jordan, "The allegation of abuse made by the parent, was thoroughly investigated. When WWK8 received the complaint from the parent, the teacher was immediately removed from student contact. And, in accordance with the law, the school district alerted the Hernando County Sheriff's Office and the Department of Children and Families regarding the matter. All three agencies investigated the allegation and found no evidence of abuse or "battery" against the student."
I asked Jordan if the teacher received any discipline at all and she said, "The teacher was provided an Employee Conference Report reinforcing the no touching policy and was provided other ways to gain student attention." But the responses appear to contradict one another because if she was reminded of the "no touching policy," then does that mean she did commit battery upon Evans' son? According to Florida Statute, a battery includes any "unwanted touching." And Evans says McFarlane doesn't even contest the accusations.
We contacted the Hernando County Sheriff's Office and Principal O'Rourke, but they have not responded to our requests for comment.
We will bring more on this story as it develops.