Posted on September 5, 2012 at 8:33 AM
GIG HARBOR, Wash. -- New support is surfacing for a teacher who landed in trouble after cell phone video taken inside his class became public.
The incident happened in February at Gig Harbor’s Kopachuck Middle School. Cell phone video, shot by students, shows the then 13-year-old student being dragged around the classroom. It also shows several students stacking chairs on him while he is held by his arms and legs. All of it happened in front of teacher John Rosi, who at times participated in the incident.
Plenty of people were furious to learn about it. But some parents and former students are supporting the teacher.
“He was one of my favorite teachers. I was just really shocked,” said former student Stephen Manjarrez.
“We’d mess around with him, kind of push him and stuff,” Manjarrez remembered from when he was in Rosi’s class six years ago.
Some have described the incident that happened in February as ‘kidding around,’ but others called it a case of a boy being bullied.
“This is absolutely not bullying. Had parents not gotten involved in this it would have been horseplay, and it would have been forgotten,” said Bryan Hershman, Rosi’s attorney.
Rosi was suspended for 10 days without pay and moved to a different middle school within the district. Acting Peninsula School District Superintendent Chuck Cuzzetto called it, “an isolated situation in an 18-year career.”
Rosi was supposed to teach seventh and eighth grade math starting Tuesday, September 4th. However, a decision was made to place Rosi on paid administrative leave instead. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident.
A new Facebook page called ‘Bring Back Mr. Rosi
’ is gaining attention. Hershman has been encouraging former students and others to share positive comments about his client.
“I would hope they would put him back in the classroom where he belongs, where kids love him,” said Hershman.
Randall and Karla Kinney, the boy’s parents, want Rosi fired. They said the experience was devastating for their son. Following the incident, the boy, now 14 and attending a private school, told his parents he was thinking about suicide.
“He told me, ‘I want to die. I want to kill myself,’” said Randall.
Randall’s attorney told King 5, “a Facebook page asking students to support him and discredit the family is simply more bullying.”
Rosi’s attorney said the incident in February was not malicious, but acknowledged that his client made a mistake.
“When this spontaneous play time erupted, he let it go on, and I think he very much regrets his decision to do that,” said Hershman.