CRESTVIEW —Two Walker Elementary School staff members have been placed on administrative leave, apparently while an investigation into a second-grade student being made to "duck walk" in front of his classmates as a form of discipline is proceeding.
The child's mother said she learned of the incident after a question about the disciplinary technique, in which children are made to squat and walk like a duck in front of their classmates, appeared recently on a classroom digital app. She said her 8-year-old son told her that same evening that he had been made to do the duck walk.
"I believe it was because he didn't do his homework," the mother said. Generally, she said, it is her understanding that children are made to duck walk for a variety of reasons, including "if they don't do something right, if they don't do their homework, if they're talking too loud."
After hearing her son's story, the mother went the next day to Walker Elementary, where she spoke with Assistant Principal Mandy Lopez and the school resource officer — Principal Lorna Carnley was not at school at the time, she said — as her son was taken out of his classroom to spend the rest of the day in the school office. Her son was subsequently reassigned to another second-grade classroom, the mother said, and has not had to go back to his original classroom.
"I'm very, very happy that he's not in her classroom," the mother said Wednesday, adding that the assistant principal was apologetic about the incident, but told her that she didn't have any authority to take immediate action against the teacher.
The boy's mother had to return to work before the end of the school day, but said that after she left, someone from the Florida Department of Children and Families came to the school in connection with her son's situation.
The mother later called Okaloosa County Schools Superintendent Marcus Chambers, whom she said also apologized to her for her son's experience.
The Daily News first sought comment from the school district late last week, and received an email response from Assistant Superintendent Steve Horton, who wrote, "An investigation is underway into the allegation to which you are likely referring, though I could not confirm any events as you have stated them."
Horton went on to say, though, that he could "confirm that two employees have been placed on administrative leave at this time pending the outcome of the investigation."
In additional comments in a text message responding to a Wednesday request for any additional information on the incident, the status of the investigation, and the status of the two employees placed on administrative leave, Horton wrote, "... I don't have any updates to the previous statement." He went on to say that, as is routine, a redacted investigative report would be "available upon completion after certain timelines have been met."