OAKLAND — A teacher has been placed on administrative leave after forcing a 5-year-old girl to lick a chalkboard as punishment, the girl's godmother said Thursday.
The alleged incident occurred 2 1/2 months ago, after Tiana Powell wrote on the chalkboard after being told not to, said the godmother, Dorothy King. King complained that the school district took too long to discipline the teacher.
The Oakland Education Assn. confirmed that the teacher had been placed on leave Monday and that a letter of reprimand was placed in his personnel file. His name was not released.
King said Thursday that she learned of the incident Jan. 16 when Tiana's mother dropped her off at King's barbecue restaurant.
"We were catching up at the dinner table and I asked her how she liked [school]," King said. Tiana said she wasn't happy, and King asked why.
"She said, 'Because the teacher made me lick the blackboard with my hands behind my back.' I didn't believe it. I made her repeat it. I made her show me. It not only made my heart hurt, but it was so disgusting," King said.
King said she took Tiana to school the next Tuesday, and found out that the only action administrators had taken was to move her to a different kindergarten class.
King said Ron Solis, the principal of Lafayette Elementary School, confirmed that the incident had occurred. He told her Tiana's mother, Evangeline Jordan, was satisfied with how it was handled, King said.
King said that was not true.
At a news conference at the school Thursday, Jordan said she confronted the teacher.
"Why would you make her lick a chalkboard with her hands behind her back?" she said she asked him. "That's very abusive."
King said she and Jordan met with Solis and district administrator Ron Miller, who assured them something would be done. She said she later was told the teacher was placed on leave and a police report was filed.
"There was no police report filed," said Allyna Jones, administrative assistant to the district's chief of police.
Miller said he was unable to discuss the incident.
"It's an ongoing investigation and I'm not able to talk about it right now," Miller said Thursday. "We're trying to bring it to some closure."
Telephone calls seeking comment from Solis and the teacher were not returned.
King became friendly with Tiana's family when they were residents of a homeless shelter and King was on its board of directors.