A teaching assistant as well as the teacher were sacked after it was learned that pre-kindergarten students were being punished for misbehaving by being put in a closet and told there was a monster in it.
Last Tuesday morning, the teacher was reading a story to her pre-kindergarten students. This particular story, After School Monsters, contained a part about a monster that was in a closet. It's not really known what the children got out of the story but it certainly served to inspire both the teacher and her aide.
One of the boys in the class became disruptive so the teacher put him into a closet for five minutes and told him there was a monster in it, just like in the story. The closet, located in the classroom, was a "custodial closet" containing cleaning supplies.
Kelon Chaney, 4, and three of his classmates thought their fellow student having to spend time shut in a closet with a monster was pretty funny. So they laughed. And one by one, they too received the same punishment for laughing in class.
When Kelon was confined in the dark closet, he cried so hard he threw up. The school called home and his grandmother had to come to pick him up. When Kelon's mother, Kelicia Johnson-Chaney, found out what happened, she was furious.
Johnson-Chaney was quoted by KENS as saying she couldn't believe what the teacher and the assistant had done. You are taking a 4-year-old and putting them in a dark closet. That's like torture. That's a torture even to an adult that is afraid of the dark. Who puts anybody in a closet?
As bad as it was, not only is Kelon is reportedly doing well but he learned something from the experience. He was quoted by Fox 26 as saying, "She said there was a monster in there; there was no monster in that closet."
The four-year-old added, "Since I got in the monster closet, she should have got in the monster closet."
Dr. Annette Cluff, the superintendent of Varnett Charter School, took prompt action first suspending, then firing the teacher and the aide. Cluff was quoted in the Daily Mail as saying, I'm a grandma, I'm a mother and I wouldn't allow that kind of behavior with my own children. They used monster in a closet as a means of discipline and trying to correct behavior that is just unacceptable.
According to Cluff, the proper way to discipline children that age is with a time out.
Despite being pleased with the immediate action taken by Cluff, Kelon will not be returning to the school. His mother does not want him to have to see "that" closet.
As reported by Fox 26 in the accompanying video, child services will be investigating the teacher and the teacher's assistant.