Dawn Felix, Johnston County, North Carolina teacher at Smithfield Middle School resigns after taping eleven year old student’s mouth shut to stop him from talking. Educator’s ouster follows the boy’s mother, Catherine Webster demanding an investigation.
‘I don’t know what to do?’ Disconcert has come to the fore after a North Carolina student shared a selfie with his mom after his English teacher allegedly taped his mouth shut for talking too much in class.
Catherine Webster received a text from her son Brady in February saying ‘I don’t know what to do’ with an image of himself with layers of blue painter’s tape stuck to his mouth during class at Smithfield Middle School, Johnston County.
Horrified by the image of her son who she described to be a ‘chatterbox’ who has a ‘tendency to clown around’, Catherine posted the image to Facebook to bring attention to her son’s story and his interaction with the eleven year old’s English teacher, Dawn Felix.
Felix, who joined the Johnston County school as a sixth grade teacher, in August last year according to the dailymail has since resigned following the ‘episode’.
Felix is said to be an international teacher, although it’s unclear where she hails from. Upon resigning from her job, the educator was stripped of her visa, meaning she would no longer be able to work in the US.
‘It had been going on, you know, about two months’
Catherine said she hoped her post would ‘serve as an example’ to any other teachers or caregivers who may be ‘walking a fine line’.
‘Just layer after layer, there were some pieces that went right up to his lower eyelid,’ Webster told WRAL.
The boy told his mother that his English and language arts teacher put the tape there.
‘So, I showed the principal the photo, and she took us into her office,’ Webster said.
From there, an investigation within the school system began.
‘It had been going on, you know, about two months, and it had happened to several kids in the classroom. And sometimes she tapes some kids’ wrists together. Sometimes she tapes their mouth,’ the mother told WRAL.
The mom said she’d ‘never met, seen or received an email’ from Felix, who allegedly used this bizarre punishment ‘on at least three students.’
Boy left humiliated after teacher took matters into her own hands
‘But apparently I should have, several times over, so that I could work with her to correct my son Brady’s behavior in her class,’ the boy’s mother posted on Facebook.
‘His grades were good, so I had no reason to believe anything was amiss there because she never once reached out to me.’
The mother-of-three said other teachers claimed Brady got along well with others and ‘enjoys entertaining his classmates.’
‘[He also] has a tendency to clown around and be disruptive and talk too much,’ she said.
‘I’m a reasonable person and a fairly strict parent with no tolerance for disrespect and an understanding that teachers do not have time for repetitive disruption, so I also discipline Brady at home when this happens.’
After receiving the text message from her son who said he was ‘humiliated’ by the experience Catherine said she couldn’t hold back her shock and disappointment.
She said that other teachers had communicated their concerns about Brady’s behavior, and with her help, come up with solutions to keep disturbances in class to a minimum.
‘Those teachers have had to redirect or correct this behavior and they have always emailed or called me to make me aware,’ she said in the post.
‘They give him silent lunch or move him away from his buddies or in some cases, more serious but acceptable forms of punishment. They have never laid a hand on Brady.’
But when speaking of her son’s English teacher, she said that rather than addressing her concerns with a parent, Felix had taken matters into her own hands.
‘She has been doing it for a couple months to numerous children, and according to my child, a detective with Johnston County Sheriffs department, and other classmates, she also sometimes taped their wrists together,’ said Catherine.
‘This was an ongoing thing in her classroom, and always without a call to parents about their children’s behavior, at least mine and one other parent I know, and potentially a third.’
Catherine claimed in the Facebook post that her son’s teacher had told detectives investigating the incident that it was ‘funny’ and that the ‘children laughed when it happened.’
After seeing the image Catherine said she immediately called the school.
In a statement to WRAL the school administration said: ‘We can confirm that whenever such allegations arise, our administration responds swiftly, by investigating the allegations and, sometimes, by removing staff from classrooms pending completion of a thorough review.’
At what point is errant teacher behavior investigated and punished?
The sheriff’s office also investigated after saying that several allegations by other parents were also made.
After consulting with the District Attorney, the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office decided there wasn’t enough to warrant an assault charge.
Johnston County Schools told the outlet that Felix, who was just hired in August 2022, resigned on February 17, three days after the photo was texted to Catherine.
‘The teacher, whose contract was damaged from this incident, will be returning to her country since she can no longer teach here,’ Catherine said in her post.
‘I do not know what kind of disciplinary action it takes to disqualify them from remaining in these contracts, but I do regret that she will not be made an example of.’
Catherine claims that the sixth grade ELA teacher, who was ‘recruited from a pool of international teacher candidates to fill gaps’ will ‘soon be leaving the country.’
She added that she still had questions about what the Department of Public Instruction would have done if the teacher was not allegedly stripped of her teaching visa.
‘I would still like to know what, exactly, The Department of Public Instruction would do in a slightly different situation. That remains unanswered for me,’ she said.
‘I think we all know it is far too easy for teachers to mistreat, even abuse students in a classroom, be dismissed from their district (or in this case, resign once placed on leave and reported) only to get a job teaching in the next county or state.
‘So at what point are behaviors like this investigated and punished to a point that a teacher cannot repeat the pattern on other children elsewhere?’
The disappointed mother-of-three said that her view of teachers had not been tarnished and that Felix’s behavior is ‘few and far between.’
‘I love and fervently support our teachers. I try to partner with my children’s teachers, though it’s more difficult the older they get because teachers have more students and less time to spend on each family,’ she said.
‘This post is not a blow to teachers in general, just one teacher. In every profession, you will always find a few bad apples. But they do not spoil the whole bunch.’