Investigator: Teacher caught threatening students

CLEVELAND -- A 20-year veteran Cleveland school teacher is off the job and is on administrative leave after she was caught on camera threatening and intimidating three 10 year-old girls. The incident occurred last December, when physical education teacher Johneita Durant was in charge of overseeing the class of students from St. Adelbert's at the Fairfax Recreation Center.

On the video, obtained exclusively by Channel 3 News, Durant is seen throwing a ball at a child sitting on a bench inside the gymnasium. Moments later she holds up her fist in front of another child's face. She's seen putting her hands on the shoulders of a third child and shaking her.

"She broke all the rules as far as disciplining a small child including putting her hands on a small child, said Cleveland attorney Danny Chaplin. "Whatever happens to this person is she shouldn't be around children period. It's clear she didn't have any type of plan for that day's class." Chaplin is representing one of the children and her family, and is considering a lawsuit.

Principal James Smith provided a written statement about the incident:

"Regarding an incident which occurred last December involving St. Adalbert school teacher & students in physical education class, the instructor was immediately placed on administrative leave and the incident was reported to law enforcement authorities & the Division of Children and Family Services for investigation. St. Adalbert School places the safety of all its highest priority and followed established polices in this matter"

Durant isn't a stranger to the spotlight. She was the principal at Success Tech in Cleveland, when a gun-man opened fire and injured two teachers and two students. A Channel 3 news producer attempted to contact Durant about the incident. His phone calls were not returned, and his visit to her Cleveland Heights home came up empty.

The Cleveland City Prosecutor looked into the case and decided not to file charges.

Rayna King's daughter Rayanna was the the child in the video that was shaken by Durant. The 10 year-old said the incident occurred after words were exchanged between two friends. "The girls started to talk smart to Ms. Durant, than when she put her on the bench and threw the ball at her", she confidently said.

Her mom was shocked when she witnessed the video a few weeks ago. "For a teacher to feel like that needed to to be physical is ridiculous," King said. "I don't fault the school, maybe she needed a little time in jail to just sit there to think about what she did, because at the end of the day, you don't put your hands on someone else's child."

The releasing of the video comes on the heels of new report from The Department of Education that reveals racial disparities in schools, starting as young as pre-school.

The data shows young black students in pre-K programs, who make up 18 percent of children in such programs, are suspended and expelled at rate that is 3 times higher than that of white children. It also states that suspended students are more likely to be repeated offenders and less likely to graduate.

"I'm not surprised, but I am disappointed," confessed Sheila Wright, Executive Director of the Cleveland Chapter of the NAACP. Her office has seen a local trend in racial disparities, and is calling community leaders to implement a universal school discipline policy.

"If we don't act now to reverse this and stop it, you are just going to see a continued growth of people not contributing like they should to the community."

For a complete review of the Department of Educations study and results, click here.


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