Local News

Teacher charged with breaking girl's arm to return to class

Posted October 21, 2010
Updated October 22, 2010

— A Cumberland County Schools investigation has determined that a teacher who broke 5-year-old girl's arm last month didn't intend to hurt her, Superintendent Frank Till said Thursday.

Jackie Bennett, a teacher at J.W. Coon Elementary School, told investigators he was attempting a therapeutic hold on Tacara Gunn when the injury occurred.

A therapeutic hold is a way of physically restraining someone for a limited time to calm them and prevent them from hurting themselves or others. The restraint is allowed under state law, and Cumberland County Schools trains all teachers of special-needs students, including Bennett, to use the holds as a last resort.

Following the incident, school district officials reviewed the district's policy on restraining students.

Till said Thursday that the internal review found that Bennett didn't use a therapeutic hold. Instead, he improperly forced the girl's arms down, causing one to break.

"It was an accident. There was no malice. It wasn't done out of anger. It was just choosing to use the wrong hold," Till said.

Bennett was suspended for two weeks without pay, but he will return to his classroom at J.W. Coon Elementary on Friday. He will be required to be re-qualified in the use of therapeutic holds.

J.W. Coon Elementary School in Cumberland County Teacher to return to classroom where girl's arm broken

"We felt that he was a great teacher, and the school was interested in seeing him come back," Till said. "We only heard positive things about him."

The girl has been moved to "a different environment" and won't be in Bennett's classroom, he said.

The review also determined that district policies and procedures regarding therapeutic holds are "sound and proper," Till said.

Bennett, 57, of 6529 Pacific Ave., still faces charges of assault inflicting serious bodily injury and child abuse inflicting serious injury in the case.


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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Oct 25, 2010

    I asked "What do you suggest that school teachers do to subdue your outta-control child?"

    Only whatelseisnew answered with "Use a choke hold. If that does not work apply the stun gun."

    Every other parent either doesn't have clue what teachers should do to protect their childen (like from glass they might break) or other children from their little maniac.

    Other parents showed how little they care about anyone else in the universe, by threatening the teacher who would "touch" their child...apparently, no matter what their child was doing. Yeah, teachers are paid the big bucks to figure out how to control your un-controllable child.

    Others suggested increasing finding extra school money (LOL) to pay for cameras in every classroom...and presumably network disk storage & secondary backup systems for archiving...and hardware & wiring for everything...and people to setup, run & maintain the systems...and on and on.

    Again, how should a teacher control your outta control kid?

  • Plenty Coups Oct 22, 2010

    "'If it were my child, headline would read: "Teacher charged with breaking girl's arm to return to class, with 2 broken arms"'

    That is an absolutely dead-on statement..well said!"

    And in the end it will lead to even less teachers as well as special ed teachers ( theres always a tremendous shortage of special ed teachers) who let fights and out of control behavior go on for fear of repercussions and second guessing much like the comments I read here.

  • ono724 Oct 22, 2010

    'If it were my child, headline would read: "Teacher charged with breaking girl's arm to return to class, with 2 broken arms"'

    That is an absolutely dead-on statement..well said!

  • didisaythat Oct 22, 2010

    I agree with the majority....Except if this has to be done for the child then the child needs to be in a setting specifically for special children. I remember the incident with the principal that slapped a child out of control. She was fired. The child should not be at the public school, they need special care and attention.

  • treki70 Oct 22, 2010

    My son goes to school /has autism was misbehaving and they had to get the school resource officer to hold him for misbehaving on day-I dont know maybe put the kid in a padded room??--which some schools do have!!(maybe not a good idea-some times they get overused)Just look up "Time out rooms" And read some of those stories.

  • gopack07 Oct 22, 2010

    "finally in court two years after the fact i found out while the teacher was on the stand under oath that he was IN THE PROCESS of getting a degree from the Univ. of Phoenix."

    My mom actually got her Masters in Special Education from University of Phoenix. She went to the building several nights a week for her classes so it wasn't anything online, but it was an intense graduate-level course. She has had no problems getting a teaching job, granted she went to undergrad at a private college but I can tell you that she knows just as much, if not more than special education teachers here so I can't really knock the "university" but I would question why the teacher didn't have a degree and was teaching in the school. Makes no sense.

  • Juncyard Oct 22, 2010

    If it were my child, headline would read: "Teacher charged with breaking girl's arm to return to class, with 2 broken arms"

  • Smart Alex Oct 22, 2010

    I am the mother of a child with special needs. I think there are times that physical restraint could possibly be needed to keep a child from hurting himself or herself, as well as other people. I know this as a parent and also being very familiar with other children with special needs. It is a fine line to walk, however. I think cameras in the classroom would be a good idea, to protect the children as well as the teachers. Many of the students in a self-contained class cannot speak for themselves. I realize that cameras do not show everything, but if I was teaching a special needs class, I would appreciate the backup. In this high tech world, it is good to conduct yourself as if you were being filmed anyway, because maybe you are.

  • tws1234 Oct 22, 2010


  • shannonmaynor Oct 22, 2010

    First of all, cameras don't always show everything and can lead to misinterpretations as to what is actually on film. So many of you are quick to jump to conclusions without knowing the full story. This man's career, his name, his reputation was dragged through mud before the whole story was reported, and now that he has been shown to have acted in a way that was not malicious, he can save his career. Those of you still smearing his name, don't know what it's like to be in a classroom with special needs children. He still has to look his colleagues, parents, other students in the face and carry on with dignity. Don't continue to be ignorant.