Pennsylvania special education teacher accused of putting duct tape on student’s face

COATESVILLE, Pa. — A special education teacher has been suspended and could lose her job after putting tape on a child’s face.

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Audra Ritter is a seventh-grade special education teacher and English teacher at North Brandywine Middle School, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Ritter allegedly tried to “de-escalate” a situation with a student when she taped a message to the girl’s nose on May 4.

According to a statement of charges prepared by the school district, Ritter was suspended after placing the tape that read, “I have nothing nice to say,” on student’s face, KYW-TV reported.

Ritter is also president of the Coatesville School District’s teacher’s union and said that she was joking when she applied the tape to the student’s face, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Ritter said she felt she had a “good relationship” with the student, who she described as laughing and “perfectly fine in my class for the next two hours.”

As described in the statement of charges from the school board, after Ritter put the tape on the student’s nose, a second student then pulled the tape off and put it across her mouth. That student was then disciplined, but the district said that an aide in the classroom then removed the tape from the student’s mouth and reapplied it to her nose.

Coatesville School Board statement of charges by National Content Desk on Scribd

The district said the student was “humiliated and offended” and went to the principal asking to be excused from the class, KYW-TV reported.

The statement of charges also accuses Ritter of tracking down the student later, questioning the student and causing a disruption despite having no authority to do so.

Ritter said she had been seeking out the student to ask why she missed class, and only later realized her error when she heard the student was upset about the tape, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

In a statement to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the district also noted that Ritter “has unlawfully discriminated against this child … on the basis of race and/or created a hostile environment based on race.” Witter is white, and the student is Black.

Ritter disputed all allegations of racism, and told The Philadelphia Inquirer, “The tape was the wrong vehicle, absolutely. Do I deserve a punishment for that? Absolutely. Do I deserve termination? No.”