Teacher disciplined for telling students to give boy birthday punches
Boy suffered bruises on arms, report says
PORT ORANGE, Fla. – A middle school teacher who told his students to give one of their classmates "birthday punches" is being punished for his behavior, according to documents from Volusia County Schools.
The boy's father contacted Creekside Middle School administrators on March 7, saying that his son had been repeatedly punched in the locker room the day before as he was preparing to leave gym class.
The child said coach Devin Johnson told the students that it was the boy's birthday and they needed to give him "birthday punches." The boy suffered bruises on his arm as a result of the incident, the report said.
Students who were in the class and another physical education teacher were interviewed as part of the claims. Everyone except the other teacher, who was not present when the incident began and only saw the boy being punched, said that Johnson told the students the punch the boy for his birthday.
Johnson was put on leave after the incident was reported.
Multiple teachers and a parent wrote to school officials in support of Johnson. They described him as dedicated educator with a knack for connecting with his students. In their letters, they cited examples of Johnson's passion for his work and his willingness to go above and beyond for the student body.
Students also started a Change.org petition in support of Johnson.
On April 1, Johnson received a letter notifying him that he would need to take a course that provides workplace professionalism training by May 30.
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