Portage County mother upset about graduation gift from teacher to students
STEVENS POINT (WAOW) -
A Stevens Point mother says she filed a civil complaint against Stevens Point Area High School after her daughter with special needs received a toilet bowl brush and cleaner from a teacher for a graduation gift.
SPASH school leaders say the gift was from the student's Life Skills Center teacher. They say the Life Skills Center program is for students with cognitive disabilities and teaches them basic independent living and work skills.
School leaders say the gift to students, a toilet bowl brush and cleaner, was to reinforce what they learned in the class.
But one parent says that gift was inappropriate.
When her daughter came home with the gift, Lisa Kingsbury was angry.
"I said, 'Did you ask your teacher why you got this gift?' and she said, 'Yes,' it was for her to clean toilets," said Kingsbury.
Her daughter Alyssa says she was also upset by the gift.
Kingsbury says the gift was demeaning.
"Not that there is anything wrong with being a janitor or custodian but I have goals for her and I want her to be so much more than that," said Kingsbury.
Other parents say their children received the same gift in past years and they saw no problem with it.
"I thought it was funny, my daughter thought it was funny," said Karen Medo whose daughter graduated from SPASH last year. "It was kind of taken as a light hearted way to make light of a unpleasant task but definitely wasn't in anyway meant to make fun of her."
Still, Kingsbury says the teacher should be fired.
School leaders say after reviewing the facts, they do not believe disciplinary action is appropriate at this time.
The school district did release a statement on behalf of the teacher saying, "While school staff did not mean for the gift to be offensive, school and District staff understand how parents may find the gift to be so. For that, school and District staff offer parents their most sincere apology for the situation."
"I believe this teacher challenged her students and in no way meant anything derogatory. It was unfortunate that it was misinterpreted," said Medo.
But Kingsbury says the school isn't doing enough in response to the gifts.
"I do feel that there should be some kind of discipline action towards this, not just to say ok it's not going to happen again and it's done," said Kingsbury.
She says she's filed a civil complaint with the Department of Education.
"I made a complaint against the school saying she was discriminated against for her disability," said Kingsbury.
School leaders say the teacher did buy the gifts with her personal money, not school funds. They say in the future, students will be given different gifts.