After a video showed a high school teacher at Ozen High attacking a student of color who reportedly asked about a grade, she was arrested, charged with one count of assault, and released on a $2,500 bond. According to The Washington Post, the video showed Mary Hastings, a 63-year-old geometry teacher, pushing papers off the student’s desk and slapping him five times with an open palm. Hastings was recorded on video by another student. The video went viral on social media and has been shared thousands of time.
What preceded the attack was not clear.
“Because you’re stopping him from graduating, you idiot ass!” Hastings said in the video, slapping the student five times with an open palm. When the student asked why she had hit him – “Why you did that?” – Hastings repeated his words, mocking him. The widely shared video was posted to Twitter on April 8, according to 12 News. Of the teacher’s attack at Ozen High where 98 percent of the school’s 1,100 students are minorities and 81 percent are economically disadvantaged, the Beaumont Independence School District said in a statement, “The teacher was immediately removed from the classroom and placed on administrative leave pending action on her contract.”
Atyra Deroune, a 10th-grader at Ozen who witnessed the attack, said Hastings was behaving out of character. “She was a really cool teacher,” Deroune said. “It was just that particular day.” In news reports, other students provided descriptions similar to Deroune’s. While news reports say Hastings has declined to comment, Ozen graduates have posted opinions online. “One of the worst places I’ve ever been placed,” a former student wrote. “It was a year of experiencing the closest thing to jail. Violence, terrible teachers, insane gangs of students running wild. Never again.”