Wellington – A Polo Park Middle School science teacher has been suspended for 10 days after an investigation found she put hand sanitizer in the mouth of a misbehaving student.
The student told a school administrator that he was talking loudly in class Oct. 14 when teacher Guyette Duhart told him he needed to have his mouth washed out with soap, the investigation found.
Duhart then grabbed a bottle of hand sanitizer from her desk, investigators said, and told the student to approach her.
Six students told investigators that Duhart then pumped hand sanitizer into the student’s mouth, a district investigation found.
Duhart, 51, admitted to holding the sanitizer near his mouth but claimed the student grabbed the bottle himself and pumped it into his own mouth.
The student spit onto the floor and left the classroom, the investigation found. When he returned, Duhart let him go to a bathroom to rinse his mouth.
“I was really unaware that anything occurred until he left,” she told investigators. “He returned to the class and I allowed him to wash out his mouth.”
Duhart did not respond to a message seeking comment. A school district spokeswoman said that Duhart remains on alternative assignment as she appeals her suspension.
The school district concluded the allegation against Duhart was substantiated. The school board on Wednesday approved a 10-day suspension without pay.
It was the first time Duhart has been formally disciplined in her 12 years working in Palm Beach County’s public schools, records show.
The hand sanitizer placed in the student’s mouth was Up and Up Hand Sanitizer, which is composed primarily of ethyl alcohol and intended to decrease bacteria on the skin.
The National Institutes of Health recommends that people who swallow it seek medical help.
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