Teacher arrested for jerking student by shirt calls incident 'disappointing'

BAKER, LA (WAFB) - A teacher taken out of school and arrested after a run-in with a student is speaking out publicly for the first time since the incident happened.

Deborah Anderson, a teacher at Baker Middle School, described what she said was one of the most humiliating moments of her life.

"My feeling was disappointment because it just wasn't right," said Anderson.

Anderson, a teacher with 16 years of experience, was arrested by an officer with the Baker Police Department last week and charged with simple battery after an altercation with a student at the school. According to a police report filed by the arresting officer, the student's mother told the officer her child said Anderson jerked him by his shirt because it was not tucked in. The report added the teachers stated they observed the victim to be very emotional and upset while standing outside of the classroom but did not observe the incident.

Anderson said she was escorted from the school and then later booked at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. She said she believes the entire situation should have been avoided.

"I feel like it was handled incorrectly from the start of it until the end of it and I believe that's why everybody's outraged, just outraged about the whole thing," Anderson explained.

Anderson's attorney, Yigal Bander, said his client contends that after she told the student to tuck in his shirt, he tried to push past her arm blocking a classroom while shouting obscenities. Bander said her actions are protected under Louisiana law.

"The same right that a parent has to exercise reasonable discipline of her child, a teacher has to exercise reasonable discipline of a student," said Bander.

Police Chief Mike Knaps declined an interview but did issue a statement on the matter.

"Due to my respect for the system, I have no further comment," said Knaps.

Anderson returned to school this week and said the support she has received from City of Baker School System officials and community members has been overwhelming. She admitted to still struggling at times during school when thinking about the incident but added there is nowhere else she would rather be.

"We smooth out the rough places as we go but we just move on like it's supposed to be. We're teaching in the classroom, a child is learning, a child is developing and that's the way it's supposed to be," Anderson said.

Anderson's arraignment is scheduled for April 29, but her attorney is still hopeful the Baker city prosecutor will decide to dismiss charges. Knaps said a meeting has been scheduled between his department and school system officials to discuss future situations that may arise.

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