DeKalb teacher faces dismissal for leaving student, 10, in the rain

Supporters of a longtime DeKalb County School District teacher say he has until today to “decide his fate,” resigning or being terminated after an incident where he put a student outside for misbehaving.

Parents said during Thursday night’s “On the Scene with Dr. Green” event at Columbia Middle School in Decatur that James O’Donnell, a teacher for about 40 years, was teaching physical education on Nov. 12 when he put a student outside for being disruptive. It was raining and the student got wet. The student’s parent complained.

O’Donnell was immediately placed on administrative leave, parents said.

Parents said the student was able to stand beneath an awning, but chose to run around in the rain.

Tara Gilmore said in an interview with Channel 2 Action News that her son, Joe Austin, came home from Henderson Mill Elementary on Monday with his clothes soaked. He told his mother he had to stand outside the school gym for more than 30 minutes after he spun around on the floor during gym class, and his coach told him to get up.

“I asked where should I stand,” Austin told the news station. “He said, ‘Right on the wall.’”

Superintendent Steve Green said Thursday night that he would not comment on the matter, adding that he was allowing the district’s process, which includes investigating the incident, to run its course.

District officials declined to give information about the event, including when it took place, when O’Donnell was placed on leave and his current employment status.

District officials sent a statement this morning that it “is committed to behaviors that provide a safe and healthy learning environment for students. The district does not discuss personnel matters and cannot speak directly to your questions about the individual you noted. However, the occurrence has been investigated and DCSD has taken appropriate action based on its findings.”