Local elementary teacher on leave after reportedly pulling student by her hair during trip to Zion

Angels Landing towers over the Virgin River in Zion National Park, date, location unspecified | Photo courtesy of Pixabay, St. George News

ST. GEORGE— A fourth-grade teacher at Coral Canyon Elementary School has been placed on administrative leave after witnesses reported that she pulled a student by her ponytail during a field trip to Zion National Park.

Steve Dunham, Washington County School District communication and public relations director, told St. George News that concerned parent volunteers reported the teacher’s behavior to the school principal after the incident occurred on Wednesday.

“A couple of our volunteers came to the principal with some concerns about the behavior of a teacher,” Dunham said. “The principal immediately contacted the school district, and we began an investigation and put that teacher on administrative leave.”

The incident occurred inside the park, though the exact location has not been released.

“It’s all part of the investigative file,” Dunham said. “So that is all information that is being gathered.”

He added that they are also investigating how far the student was pulled – an anonymous tip to St. George News had the distance at approximately 10-15 feet – and whether the student was injured in the incident. They do know that the student’s feet never left the ground, Dunham said.

“Somebody started using the term ‘dragged the girl,’ which implies that she pulled her to the ground, and that wasn’t the case,” Dunham said. “But it was significant enough that the parent volunteers brought that to the principal’s attention.”

Dunham added that he didn’t personally know at this time if the teacher – whose name has not been released – has had any prior complaints since her record is private and cannot be released.

St. George News contacted Coral Canyon principal Jennifer Eggleston, but she was unable to share many details regarding the incident.

“She was immediately put on administrative leave, and we are following our district policies and procedures on how to handle this,” Eggleston said.

The district is currently in the process of interviewing witnesses, including the student, the teacher, other students, parent volunteers, the student’s parents and Zion National Park staff, Dunham said.

“We want to make sure that we’re thorough and give everybody the opportunity to explain what took place,” he said.

The district hopes to have more information from their investigation by next week.

Email: mshoup@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @MikaylaShoup

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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