BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A day after a teacher accused of assaulting a student was arrested, parents and community leaders met with school administration at Waverly Elementary/Middle School to voice their concerns.
Taurean Branch has been charged with child abuse and assault after police say cell phone video showed him hitting an 11-year-old student in the midsection.
The school’s parent teacher organization, community leaders, and politicians met with school officials on Wednesday, and they came with a list of demands.
The PTO hopes this meeting, and all the interest it has generated, will get the school district administrators’ attention, and put more focus on this school.
WJZ asked the school district for a response to the parents’ concerns, and received the following response:
“In the past few weeks, the Waverly Elementary/Middle School community has experienced several unfortunate incidents. As always, City Schools is committed to ensuring the safety and security of all of our students, staff, and school communities and to providing a positive environment for teaching and learning. The district office is providing additional support to Waverly at this time.
“The process of hiring a permanent principal for the school is underway, and a new principal is expected to be selected before the end of the school year. Additionally, the Waverly community is being invited and encouraged to attend a meeting at the school in the coming days, where district and school leaders will be available to answer questions and address concerns.”
It was just after the first bell at Waverly Elementary/Middle School when the leading parents at this school, their elected representatives, and community leaders met with the administration.
The meeting came after Branch was charged with child abuse and assault after police reviewed a cell phone video of an incident with an 11-year old student, and the video showed the teacher striking the student.
“I know the student was apparently crying before this incident took place, and the video shows the teacher striking the student,” said Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith.
Police are not sharing the video at this point.
What happened in that classroom alarmed parents, who were never notified, and nothing was explained to the children.
“The kids at the school should have been counselled,” said one parent.
Parents tell WJZ’s Mike Schuh they don’t excuse the teacher’s alleged actions, but describe him as an excellent teacher, and are not happy with the school administration or at the Baltimore City Public Schools headquarters on North Avenue.
Some parents say they are backing the teacher involved in the incident.
“It might have went too far, but at the same time, Mr. Branch is a very nice teacher and a very nice guy,” one parent said.
“So when we have a problem like this, it does a good job a shining a light at a problem that is already there,” said PTO President Joe Kane.
They say a lack of leadership has led to a lack of control in the classrooms and the hallways.
“The PTO, who’ve been working for a year, and reaching out for a year, saying there’s something wrong here, there’s a lack of leadership here,” Delegate Mary Washington said.
“We’ll both work together to make sure that North Avenue hears that,” said Baltimore City Councilmember Mary Pat Clarke. “This is priority number one right now.”
There have been three principals at the school in three years, with the last one resigning last week.
Parents say the school district didn’t notify them when Waverly’s principal resigned.
“Let’s work together to address these issues to keep Waverly strong,” said Kane.