San Tan Valley first graders punished by running laps outside

SAN TAN VALLEY, AZ - A pair of parents say they’re baffled by a San Tan Valley teacher’s choice for discipline in a first grade classroom. 

They claim a teacher at Ellsworth Elementary School has the entire class accumulate “lap tallies” for bad behavior. No matter what happens in class, all students will walk or run laps outside in the sun. A method similar to a punishment uncovered by ABC15 last week which happened at a Glendale school. 

We were shown what one parent described as messages between the teacher and himself. In an app, the teacher explains the discipline method and says the student can be “placed on the wall instead.” 

"The day he told me about it it was 110 degrees and they had to do three laps,” said the child's father, who wishes to remain anonymous. 

That father immediately contacted another parent of a fellow student. That girl is a special needs child. She has congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS). That disorder affects a person's breathing. 

"She was born with congenital central hypoventilation syndrome, which means her brain doesn't tell her lungs to breath for her,” explained the mother of the second child. 

Both parents claim the school and the teacher should have known better before doling out this type of punishment. 

"I'm terrified she can pass out at any moment, if she gets overworked in class she could pass out,” said the child's mother. 

The principal sent an email to parents and acknowledged the concern.It reads in part: “Class walk laps has stopped and I'm working with (the teacher, who ABC15 is not naming) to develop positive behavior interventions."

J.O. Combs Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Gayle Blanchard responded to ABC15’s request for comment. She wrote: 

“Once the parent's concern was brought to our attention it was immediately addressed with the first year teacher. A letter was sent to parents and the teacher has been provided guidance on acceptable actions as it relates to classroom management.”

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