A Memphis, Tennessee kindergarten teacher is in hot water after locking a student in the classroom closet, and then forgetting about her.
The five year old, who says she was put in the closet because she “was playing too much” was left in the closet for more than an hour after the teacher, Kristin Ohsfeldt, went home sick. The substitute teacher who filled in for Ohsfeldt discovered the scared, shivering Akeelah Joseph, and then informed the elementary school principal of the incident.
The principal contacted police and the student’s mother. Although police have looked in to the incident, they have yet to file any charges. Wanda Joseph, Akeelah’s mother, arrived at the school shortly after being informed of what had occurred. Apparently, Akeelah has asthma, and the possibility that she could have suffered an attack while alone in the closet added to the mother’s outrage.
The district has suspended the teacher while the incident is being investigated. According to other students in the class, Ohsfeldt was generally considered to be a “nice” teacher, but this was not the first time a student had been placed in the locked closet. A grandmother whose grandchild is in the same kindergarten class as Joseph says that the closet is meant to be a time out place. Ohsfeldt typically provided children with a reading book or beads to count while they are in the closet. However, parents do not seem to have been made generally aware of the practice.
For now, the principal will be conducting an interview with Ohsfeldt to gain her perspective on the incident. The results of this interview will be forwarded to the Board of Education, which will likely have final say as to whether or not Ohsfeldt will be terminated. The police investigation is still pending, and the state’s Department of Child Services is also looking into the matter. While no lawsuit has yet been filed by Joseph’s mother, it seems almost inevitable that at least the teacher and the school district will eventually become embroiled in related court proceedings.