Palmetto teacher may lose job over corporal punishment

nalund@bradenton.comAugust 4, 2010 

BRADENTON — A Palmetto Elementary teacher with a history of being reprimanded for using excessive force with students is facing termination for reportedly using corporal punishment again.

Carol Braden, who teaches technology, will find out Monday if she is fired for grabbing a fifth-grade student’s arm and twisting it behind her back. According to an administrative complaint filed by the district, the incident took place May 3, after the girl made fun of Braden for her reported inability to distinguish white from blue.

When the girl told another student her teacher had no right to hurt her, Braden replied she was allowed because she had an “Aggressive Control Technique” certificate. The qualification is awarded to teachers who take a class on dealing with aggressive students, said Scott Martin, the district attorney who filed the complaint. But the techniques are only to be used in explosive type situations, he said.

“Certainly not in this scenario,” Martin said. “Her actions weren’t appropriate because the situation did not require physical intervention to protect the safety of the student.”

Braden, 55, was put on paid leave May 5.

About a month later, June 6, her husband made an uninvited visit to the home of a teacher who witnessed the alleged incident, according to the complaint. Later that day, he also telephoned that same residence and left a voicemail, according to the complaint. The move violated a district policy prohibiting teachers under investigation from having contact with witnesses.

Braden, who has worked for the district since 1980, was sanctioned by the district on two occasions.

She received a written reprimand in December of 2001 for using excessive force on three occasions, including one incident in which she grabbed a child by the neck and chin and abruptly turned his head. In 2005 she was suspended for 10 days without pay for releasing a kindergarten student to an unauthorized adult, rather than taking the child to the after-care provider on campus.

Neither Braden, nor her Tampa-based attorney Melissa Mihok, could be reached for comment Tuesday.

But court papers show Braden denies the allegations against her and has requested a hearing.

The Manatee County school board during its regular meeting Monday will determine whether to fire her or grant her an administrative hearing and suspend her without pay.

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