DeKalb gym teacher, suspended last fall, will be returning to class

James O'Donnell, the Henderson Mill Elementary School physical education teacher off work since November, when a student said O'Donnell sent him outside in the rain as punishment for misbehaving, will get to return to class Monday.

Tara Gilmore told Channel 2 Action News in November that O'D, as the teacher is called, made her son stand outside the school gym on Nov. 9 for spinning on the floor during class. When her son, Joe, came home from school that day, his clothes were still soaked. O'Donnell was put on administrative leave with pay a short time later.

Parents and supporters said the teacher told the student to stand outside the gymnasium, which has a covered walkway from the gym door to the school's main building.

District officials said in a statement in late November that it “the occurrence has been investigated and DCSD has taken appropriate action based on its findings.”

A statement from the district Friday confirmed O’Donnell is expected to return to work at Henderson Mill Elementary on Monday. “We are preparing for his return to ensure a successful remainder of the school year for all students at Henderson Mill Elementary,” it said.

Officials have offered no reason why the process took nearly four months.