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Boy’s Secret Tape Prompts Mom to Seek Teacher’s Dismissal

September 26, 1996

SAPULPA, Okla. (AP) _ When 7-year-old Drew Carrier told his mother his teacher was mean, she wasn’t sure whether to believe him until the second-grader hid his toy tape player in his backpack and recorded a lesson.

``I can’t wait till next year when some of you get to third grade. I can’t wait,″ the teacher can be heard telling the class loudly. ``I’m going to be checking on your grades ... about half of you will be making F’s.″

The teacher also scolds one pupil on the 90-minute tape for bothering a classmate, saying, ``That’s probably why you can’t read very well.″

The very next day after the lesson, Delynn Carrier moved her son to another classroom. And she and another mother want the teacher at Liberty Elementary School fired.

``I wish I had every day he went to school on tape,″ Mrs. Carrier said Thursday. ``She’s lowering their self-esteem. She’s shredding them apart.″

Drew’s teacher, Joan Mullins, did not immediately return a call Thursday and told The Daily Oklahoman she had no comment.

Charles Dodson, school superintendent in the city of 18,000 near Tulsa, said that he had listened to the Sept. 17 recording and that the district had conducted an investigation. ``We will take appropriate action,″ he said.

He would not elaborate or comment directly on the teacher’s remarks, citing confidentiality laws.

Del Patterson, president of the Sapulpa teachers union, said Ms. Mullins has ``a record of accolades″ in her 14 years with the district. ``My thinking is, anytime you use surreptitious behavior to gain information, that is some kind of entrapment,″ he said.

Drew began complaining about Mullins soon after school began in August and even called home a couple of times to say he was sick. Mrs. Carrier couldn’t understand it; she said her son was a good student who loved school last year.

``I thought it was a personality problem. I thought she was just different and would be good for him to learn how to deal with it,″ Mrs. Carrier said.

She even went to class one day and thought the teacher was sarcastic, but nothing more. When Drew persisted, she told him, ``Tape her.″

So Drew toted his red and white Fisher-Price tape recorder to school. That afternoon, as the backpack hung on the classroom wall, he hit the big blue ``record″ button.

During the math lesson, the teacher attempts twice to shush chatter. Then she appears to yell.

``I could just sit down at my desk and just let you do this yourself. And there would be about eight of you out there at my desk going, `I don’t know how to do this,‴ she said. ``You’d miss every one of them because you can’t read, much less figure out what to do with numbers once you did read them.″

At other times during the tape, the teacher sounds encouraging, gently saying, ``Right, right″ as the children respond with the correct answers.

When she heard the tape, parent Angie Sutton said she didn’t know her daughter had been lectured about not reading well and removed her from the class.

``It made me feel bad,″ Ms. Sutton said. ``One day I asked her to go get a book and she said, `Why should I have to read? My teacher already told me I can’t read.‴

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