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10 Ridiculous and Cruel School Actions and Punishments

by Stephanie
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

Everyone has a story to tell about when they got an undeserved or uncomfortable punishment from a teacher, but are they as ridiculous as these?

From six-year-old kids being arrested to being placed in a mental facility, with these stories, you may even feel a bit better about your high school experience!

Related: Top 10 Reasons School Can Be Harmful For Mental Health

10 Banned for Being Bald

9 Year Old Girl Suspended for Shaving Her Head to Support Friend with Cancer | ABC News

In 2014, a young girl was banned from coming to school because she had no hair. The nine-year-old girl, Kamryn Renfro, had shaved her head in support of her best friend, Delaney Clements, who had been diagnosed with cancer back in October of 2010. The young girl had walked into school that morning proud of the decision she had made. But was met with a revolting response from her charter school, Caprock Academy.

The school told her that she was suspended from school until her hair grew back in because her shaved head “violated the dress code.” The Renfro family took to social media to describe what happened to their daughter, and the public outcry led to a large wave of criticism directed toward the school.

However, by the time the news had spread nationwide, the school had already voted to allow Kamryn back in school, resulting in her only missing one day of classes. The school board voted 3-1 to allow Kamryn to come back due to “extraordinary circumstances,” with the one against only voting no because he worried it would set a “precedent for policy waivers.” Luckily, in this case, the punishment was revoked. Some of the others on this were not so lucky.[1]

9 Forced to Eat off the Floor

In 2008, 15 students were forced to eat off the floors of their school in New Jersey. Charles Sumner Elementary School had been accused of making students eat off the floor as punishment for wasting food, but the school initially brushed off such reports as rumors.

The school in question is in Camden, an area that sees a lot of conflict between the Hispanic and Black populations. As a result, the Black vice-principal reprimanded the 15 Hispanic 5th graders when just one had spilled some water. The kids had to eat off paper tray liners on the floor while “the African-American kids were eating at tables, with trays, taunting these Hispanic kids who were forced to eat on the ground,” an attorney said.

Seven of the 15 students involved went on to file a lawsuit, resulting in them winning and getting $500,000 in a legal settlement. The children’s teacher, who had encouraged the children to file a lawsuit, was fired and also sued the school. She ended up winning the lawsuit and $75,000. The vice-principal who reprimanded the students transferred afterward.[2]


8 The Burp Heard ‘Round the Gym

Burping Kid Arrested

In May 2010, a 13-year-old autistic student was arrested for burping in gym class. The boy, who remains unnamed, was handcuffed and hauled away to an Albuquerque juvenile detention center after the gym teacher called a resource officer to complain about the boy “disrupting her class” at Cleveland Middle School.

The lawsuit that ensued alleges that the parents were not notified of their son being transported to the juvenile detention hall. Furthermore, the child was not even given his due process rights because he was suspended from the rest of the school year. For burping in class.

If this was not enough, another just as infuriating incident occurred at the same school in October where this same boy was carrying $200 given to him by his mother to go shopping after school. The boy was then accused of selling drugs to other students. This ridiculous accusation resulted in the child being stripped down to his underwear in front of five teachers. Ultimately, they found nothing illegal on him.

The same school district was sued a second time the same day by the family of a seven-year-old for being handcuffed to a chair after “becoming agitated in class.” So it’s not surprising that this has happened on multiple other occasions.[3]

So, what I’m saying is, don’t go to school in Albuquerque.

7 Sent to Fake Prom

Constance McMillen’s Prom Story

In Mississippi, a teenager named Constance McMillen was sent to a fake prom because she wanted to bring her girlfriend as her date. She had successfully sued her school for the right to bring her female partner to the dance. How did the school react? There were two proms organized, and she was sent to the secondary one that was on an earlier day, along with seven other students. The other seven students had learning disabilities and other “problems” that led to their exclusion.

The school, Itawamba Agricultural High School, had a policy banning same-sex prom dates even though, mind you, they had paid for their tickets just like everyone else had. However, the group was sent to a country club to dance rather than being able to enjoy the better and more expensive prom with their other classmates.

The teenager, along with her family, took the school to court—again. The court ruled that the school had violated her constitutional rights. The school, seeing the pressure of the media on this controversy, eventually canceled the actual prom, leaving no one to have a good prom night at all. After the case was settled, the school never did reschedule the real prom.[4]


6 Arrested for Perfume

Harsh Punishment for Misbehavior in Texas Schools

Here’s another case dealing with arresting children. In 2010, 12-year-old Sarah Bustamantes was handcuffed and charged with a criminal misdemeanor for spraying perfume on herself in front of her whole class at Fulmore Middle School. The child has attention deficit disorder and bipolar issues, resulting in her being very self-conscious about herself in the classroom. As she states, that makes the “other kids [not] like me.”

However, what makes this arrest even more concerning is why she put the perfume on in the first place. Her classmates were bullying her in front of the teacher, saying she smelled. Sarah said they “were saying a lot of rude things to me,” and yet the teacher did nothing to help her. But, soon after she sprayed herself with perfume, the teacher called the police officer patrolling the school to take her away.

Unfortunately, this charge was not dropped and was filed as a Class C misdemeanor under Sarah’s name, as the act of disrupting a classroom was made a criminal offense in Texas, where the child lived. The law was altered to only affect children over the age of 12 and is still in effect today. It can result in fines, community service, and even jail time.[5]

5 Strip-Searched

School Strip-Search Case Win At Supreme Court

When Savana Redding was 13 years old, she was strip-searched for allegedly possessing prescription-strength ibuprofen. A student who did have pills on her earlier that day pinned the blame on Savana, leading the principal to give the order to a female secretary to strip search the student.

Before being searched, Savana was called to the office, where she was asked about having any pills on her. She replied no. The principal asked if he could search her bag, to which she said, “Sure, go ahead.” But after doing so, the principal told her to follow the secretary into the nurse’s office, where she was ordered to strip down to her underwear while they searched her belongings, something she did not say yes to. Graham Boyd, an ACLU legal counsel, described how this event “violates, under any normal sense of what ought to happen under the Constitution.”

The mother described her daughter after the incident as “withdrawn,” and she was absolutely outraged and upset with what had happened to her daughter. She called the school immediately and got no response. Then she called the sheriff, and they supported the school’s choice to do so and did nothing to help. The mother asks parents to learn what the schools they send their children to can and cannot do and make sure that it does not violate any students’ rights.

Redding’s mother sued the Safford Unified School District in Arizona and the school officials who searched her daughter, arguing that they had violated the Fourth Amendment. The case eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where part of the case was affirmed, and another was reversed and remanded. Ultimately, they decided Savana’s rights were violated. However, the school was not held responsible due to a question about the wording of the law at the time of the search.[6]


4 “I’m not special”

Hot Teacher Takes Her Anger Out On Student

Alex Barton, a not-quite-yet-diagnosed autistic five-year-old boy, was punished in an absolutely infuriating way that would make anyone want to rip the teacher’s head off. In 2008, Morning Side Elementary School’s kindergarten teacher, Wendy Portillo, stated that Alex’s behavior was affecting the other students. This offensive behavior consisted of Alex pushing a table up with his feet off the ground. Alex was removed from the classroom by a resource officer while the teacher spoke with the class to organize what would happen next.

Portillo stated that “she felt that if (Alex) heard from his classmates how his behavior affected them that it would make a bigger difference to him,” so she brought Alex back and stood him in the center of the room and let the other children tell him all the things they didn’t like about him. After allowing the students to ostracize the boy, Portillo led a vote on whether they should kick him out of class for the rest of the day. That resulted in a 14-2 decision: he was kicked out.

Along with Alex saying his fellow students said “disgusting” things to him, he also said Portillo said, “I hate you right now. I don’t like you today,” and that she scratched him, stepped on his shoelaces, grabbed his leg, and pulled his shirt collar while yelling at him. But the class and Portillo denied this. The mother told the police officer who was involved later in the investigation that Portillo prevented her from getting her son for five minutes while he was visibly still upset from the experience. Once Alex was home, he repeatedly said the phrase “I’m not special” to himself while putting his head down.

What’s further upsetting is that the students and her fellow teachers stated that she was a kind and “caring” teacher when she was investigated. She was eventually suspended from teaching for a year, and the school fired her and stated that they would never rehire her ever. However, Portillo did not stop here. Once she had passed her year of suspension, she was hired by Allapattah Flats K-8 School. There she was accused of discriminating and yelling and screaming at a partially deaf girl, for whom Portillo would never wear the required microphone for the girl to hear her.[7]

So everyone agrees that she’s a horrible teacher now! Hooray!

3 Duffle Bag

News of Autistic Boy Allegedly Put in Bag Sparks Controversy Online

Nine-year-old Christopher Baker was stuffed into a duffel bag at Mercer County Intermediate School in December of 2011. The boy, who is autistic, was placed in the bag as a form of “therapy” to treat his autism, a practice used on other students multiple times.

Christopher’s mother, Sandra Baker, reported coming to school that day on December 14 and seeing a green duffle bag drawn shut and lying next to the teacher’s aid. On getting closer, she said she could hear Christopher ask from inside of the bag, “Who’s out there?” The mother then became more upset: When asked to open the bag, the teacher’s aid struggled to open the tied drawstring for a few moments before letting a sweaty Christopher climb out. Once the bag was opened, Christopher and dozens of plastic balls fell out of the bag together.

Lydia Brown, an intern with an autistic lobby group, started a petition to implement laws against schools being able to restrain or isolate students in schools. It received 18,000 votes in just two weeks and was closed about ten years ago with 204,709 signatures. There is no evidence of anything being done about this by the Mercer County Board of Education, and the special education director was banned from commenting on the matter.[8]


2 Mental Facility

Florida law faces scrutiny after child involuntarily sent to mental health facility

A six-year-old Florida girl was committed to a mental facility without parental consent for two days after throwing a temper tantrum in school. The young girl, Nadia Falk, was given antipsychotic medications. As Nadia describes to her mother, “Mommy, they locked the door. They wouldn’t let me out. Mommy, they gave me a shot” when asked what had happened to her.

Love Grove Elementary School had called a licensed state mental health counselor to evaluate the child after she had thrown a giant temper tantrum and had begun to throw chairs around her room. Nadia, who had been diagnosed with ADHD and a mood disorder, was then determined to need to be committed to the mental facility under the Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, which allows teachers to legally commit children two and older to mental facilities without parental consent.

The school stated that they did try to de-escalate the situation in several different ways before the counselor was called as was required and did not make the decision. The Child Guidance Center, which sent the counselor, is the organization that approved the commitment.[9]

1 Isolation Room

Parents seek legal action against Silver Creek Schools over alleged isolation room

In Buffalo, New York, several children were locked inside what was deemed the “isolation room” as punishment for various acts, the youngest being five years old. The room was described as barren: “jail-like” and “cold cinder block.” However, the room did have two windows and objects for the students to play with and use.

The students were locked and isolated from the other students in the room for hours at a time. Additionally, there was an eye-witness report of one mentally disabled student being “dragged by her arms” down the hallway to be locked in the room. The child was reported to still have nightmares about the day, while the teacher who ordered it only blamed the child for her misbehavior. Children locked in the room were banging on the glass, banging their heads, and screaming to be let out while the enforcing teachers stood and watched.

Jay Hall, the assistant director, was very open with reporters and stated that he had been fighting against the placement of children in this room. For providing descriptions and telling people exactly what happened there, Hall was placed on leave and received a cease and desist letter to prevent him from legally talking further about the isolation room. That very aggressive approach took away the only source that could thoroughly provide information about the process. The education department could not confirm nor deny the “existence of [any] investigations” for fairness and integrity.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

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