Gig Harbor teacher accused of bullying, taunting student

Gig Harbor teacher accused of bullying, taunting student
GIG HARBOR, Wash. -- An incident of classroom bullying was caught on tape inside a Gig Harbor middle school, but the shocking part is that the school district says a teacher was among those bullying the student.

The video, which was posted by the Tacoma News Tribune, shows a student screaming in pain as several kids taunt him and pin him underneath a number of chairs. Also involved was teacher John Rosi, who said the incident was nothing more than "horseplay."

That opinion is not shared by Peninsula School District Superintendent Chuck Cuzzetto, who called the episode "horrific" and suspended Rosi for 10 days.

The video was filmed in early February at Kopachuck Middle School. According to the Tacoma News Tribune, the child was taunted, socks were forced into his mouth and a pillow was placed over his face. The paper says Rosi mocked the student and feigned flatulating on him.

The boy's parents reported the bullying to the district and Rosi was immediately put on leave, Cuzzetto said.

"We've taken corrective action. We've taken appropriate steps.We would not expect that to ever happen again in his or anyone else's classroom. We wouldn't expect it to happen at all," he said.

In addition to his 10-day suspension, Rosi was also forced to undergo additional training and was reassigned to a new school this year.

Local parents said they were disturbed by the news.

"First of all, he shouldn't have let it happen. And then to participate in it is childish. I mean, that's going beyond. That's bullying by a teacher, I take it," said parent Lee Kemp.

Rosi's attorney refused to comment on the story, and in a letter released by the News Tribune, Rosi said the video shows "horseplay" and said it was a "boys will be boys" incident.

The district doesn't agree with that assessment, but did not feel Rosi should be fired. Beginning next week, Rosi will be teaching math at Harbor Ridge Middle School.

The Pierce County sheriff's department is also investigating the incident.