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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Teacher of the Year

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CN) - Parents say a second-grade teacher gave their developmentally disabled son a "malicious" and "sadistic" beating with a belt because he answered six questions wrong on a test. They say Barrett Elementary School teacher Katherine Thirkill called the 9-year-old boy up to the front of the class, took off her belt and whipped him six times, once for every wrong answer, and the metal buckle broke through his skin.

Sarah Blackmon says her 9-year-old son was a student at Barrett Elementary, where he received certain accommodations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act due to physical and cognitive disabilities.

One of the accommodations was oral administration of tests, but according to her federal complaint, Thirkill did not give him the test orally. The child missed six questions, for which he was whipped, his mom says.

She seeks punitive damages from Thirkill and the Birmingham Board of Education, for civil rights violations, violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and assault.

The mother and child are represented by Kira Fonteneau of Birmingham.

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