A Georgia elementary school teacher was charged on Monday with felony cruelty to a child after being witnessed by another employee dangling a child with autism in a trash can and comparing him to Oscar the Grouch.
According to the arrest warrant, Mt. Bethel Elementary School special needs teacher Mary Katherine Pursley was observed dangling a second grade boy upside down by his legs over a garbage can up to his shoulders, telling him that if he was going to behave like Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch he’d have to go into the garbage can.
The boy had come to class upset at another student and was screaming and yelling. According to the arrest warrant, Pursley scolded the victim about his behavior, telling him “if he has trashy behavior like Oscar, he’d go in the trash can.”
The unnamed witness stepped in at that point and confronted Pursley and went on to notify school administrators and the police.
Pursley was removed from her teaching position and charged with First Degree Felony Cruelty To A Child.
The Cobb County school district, where Pursley was employed, issued the following statement about the incident:
The District is aware of a teacher charged by police with Cruelty to Child. It is a personnel matter under investigation and no comment can be given. Safety and security of Cobb students continues to be our number one priority. Our attention is on making every remaining day of school for our students safe, healthy, engaging, meaningful and focused on academic excellence.
Pursley was released Tuesday on a $5,000 bond according to a spokesperson at the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office.