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Teacher forced to resign after taping 11 year-old-boy’s mouth shut

By Sarah May
|
March 26, 2023

In a shocking story out of North Carolina, reports have emerged that a sixth-grade English teacher took the unusual step of taping a student's mouth shut for allegedly talking too much in class, an act that left the boy's mother horrified and resulted in the educator's resignation, as the Daily Mail reports.

The incident occurred back in February at Johnston County's Smithfield Middle School, and the instructor involved has since been identified as Dawn Felix.

Alarming text received

The child's mother, Catherine Webster, revealed that her son Brady sent her a text from school that showed his entire mouth covered with layers of what appeared to be blue painter's tape.

“I don't know what to do,” Brady wrote to his mother, who, unsurprisingly, wanted answers.

Webster texted her son back, frantically asking, “WHAT IS THAT. WHO DID THAT. Who did that is that tape?”

“I'm on my way,” the understandable concerned mother added.

Not the first time

As Raleigh NBC affiliate WRAL reports, after speaking to her son about the situation, Webster learned that he had been subjected to the tape punishment on more than one occasion, as had some of his classmates, with others having had their wrists taped together by Felix.

The teacher, who had only just been hired by the district in August of 2022, resigned mere days after Brady informed his mother what had been happening.

A statement issued by the district at the time stated, “Johnson County Public Schools takes any allegations of staff misconduct seriously. Although we cannot discuss the specifics of an investigation into alleged staff misconduct, we can confirm that whenever such allegations arise, our adminstration responds swiftly, by investigating the allegations and, sometimes, by removing staff from classrooms pending completion of a thorough review.”

It subsequently emerged that Felix was an international teacher and, due to her resignation, has reportedly been stripped of her visa and may no longer hold a job in the United States.

No charges issued

In addition to the internal school district probe of the incident, the Johnston County Sheriff's Office also conducted an investigation, according to WRAL.

While additional parents leveled accusations against Felix, the sheriff's office – in consultation with the local district attorney – determined that there was insufficient intent involved on Felix's part to justify an assault charge.

Webster noted that what happened to her son – or any of the other students involved – could have been far more dangerous than Felix realized, particularly if an underlying health or breathing condition had been present.

Seemingly dissatisfied with the resolution to her son's case, Webster stated, “I want to know who is going to be held accountable, so this doesn't happen again.”

Communication breakdown

Particularly frustrating to Webster was the fact that Felix had reportedly never made any contact with her about any disruptive classroom behavior from Brady, someone she acknowledges can sometimes be a “chatterbox” and a class clown, as the Mail noted.

Webster said she had “never met, seen or received an email” from the teacher regarding her son, “[b]ut apparently, I should have, several times over, so that I could work with her to correct my son Brady's behavior in her class. His grades were good, so I had no reason to believe anything was amiss there because she never once reached out to me.”

“I'm a reasonable person and a fairly strict parent with no tolerance for disrespect and an understanding that teachers do not have time for repetitive disruption, so I also discipline Brady at home when this happens,” Webster noted.

Lamenting the fact that her son had been “humiliated” by what went on in Felix's classroom, Webster expressed her hope that her decision to come forward would “serve as an example” to other educators she said could be “walking a fine line” when it comes to handling their classrooms.