- Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Two Louisiana elementary school teachers were arrested last week after allegations that they forced children in their classroom to fight one another and told an 11-year-old girl to “go and kill (herself).”
Ann Marie Shelvin, 44, is charged with two counts of encouraging or contributing to the delinquency of a child, two counts of intimidation and interference in school operations and one count of malfeasance in office, according to KATC in Lafayette. Tracy Gallow, 50, is charged with malfeasance in office, simple battery and intimidation and interference in school operations.
Both women were employees at Washington Elementary School in Washington, a small village in St. Landry Parish, about 30 miles north of Lafayette. The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office said Shelvin, the girl’s teacher, targeted the 11-year-old victim beginning last October, forcing her to fight with some of her classmates and refusing to help her with her schoolwork if she did not fight.
Shelvin also threatened to fail three other students if they did not fight the girl and told the victim to “go and kill (herself),” KATC reported.
CNN, which obtained the police report in the case, reported that investigators interviewed one student who admitted to starting a fight with the victim that ended with several students being sent to the principal’s office. The student told police that Shelvin told her she would not help her with her work if she did not fight the girl.
The student told police that she was afraid she would fail the seventh grade if she didn’t comply.
The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette reported that the mother of the 11-year-old initially contacted sheriff’s deputies in February about the bullying, but was told that she had to report the allegations to the school board. She returned to the Sheriff’s Office in April because the bullying continued after she reported it.
Shelvin was escorted off school grounds and Galvin, whom CNN identified as a teacher’s aide, was assigned to take over her class. The girl’s mother said Galvin then began bullying the girl because she had reported Shelvin’s actions.
Surveillance footage from the school backed up the mother’s claims.
“Detectives observed the school video footage and witnessed Tracy Gallow on two occasions pushing the juvenile student on the school bleachers, stopping her from exiting the gym,” the sheriff’s office said, according to the Advertiser. “During the interview, Tracy Gallow admitted to pushing the juvenile on the bleachers because she felt she was too upset to go start her testing.”
St. Landry Sheriff Bobby Guidroz told KATC that the girl’s parents handled the abuse correctly by reporting it to the school district, continuing to monitor the way their daughter was treated and reporting it to law enforcement when the bullying continued.
“Students should not have to attend school and be bullied, especially by teachers that are there for their education, guidance and safety,” Guidroz said.
The St. Landry Parish school district confirmed that it is investigating claims against at least one Washington Elementary teacher. Superintendent Patrick Jenkins declined to provide details due to student privacy laws.
“We want to assure the school community that we take reports of this nature very seriously and will do everything in our power to protect the health, safety and welfare of all students,” Jenkins said in a statement.
Shelvin is no longer at the school, but the school’s website still lists Gallow as an employee.