Students ‘humiliated’ by having to sing and dance as punishment

Carroll Elementary School in Elk Grove.
Carroll Elementary School in Elk Grove.

Two schoolyard supervisors were removed from Carroll Elementary School in Elk Grove after forcing eight students to sing and dance on stage last week as punishment for a recess infraction, district officials said Monday.

After a recess bell sounded Thursday, yard staff made sixth-grade students who were not standing still in line get on a stage to sing and play “Simon Says,” students said Monday after school.

“She made us sing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ and, like, the ‘Star Spangled Banner,’ ” said Ava Mak, one of the sixth-grade students who was punished. “She also made us sing ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat.’ ”

“After the whole thing was over, she said it was for fun and it was meant for entertainment,” Mak said of the yard supervisor who took the lead in meting out the punishment.

The supervisor singled out two girls, including Mak, and made them sing the national anthem, sixth-grader Bilan Holif said.

“They didn’t know the lyrics and she said, ‘How do you not know the lyrics? I thought you were American,’ ” Holif said.

Mak, an Asian American, said she cried after the incident.

The unusual discipline was reported to school officials by other school staff shortly after the incident and the yard staff were removed from the campus.

“The incident itself is definitely unacceptable and uncalled for,” said district spokeswoman Xanthi Pinkerton. “It is not aligned to our disciplinary actions.”

Pinkerton said she couldn’t comment on whether the students were asked about their nationality, saying it was a personnel matter.

Sixth-grader Olivia Turner suggested it was an awkward situation for all sixth-grade students.

“I kind of got to put myself in their position,” Turner said. “I probably wouldn’t feel too good. But I kind of thought it was funny and so did everybody else, but it was kind of sad, though, because they just got humiliated.”

Principal Paul Hauder sent a letter to the school’s parents describing the incident and apologizing for it. He followed up with a letter to the parents of the eight students involved in the incident, which included an offer to provide counseling if needed.

“This sort of disciplinary action is not something we approve of or condone at Carroll Elementary School,” Hauder said in the first letter. “It resulted in humiliation of the students involved and serves no purpose in support of student learning. The staff involved were disciplined accordingly and won’t be returning to our school.”

The school will have refresher training for yard staff regarding appropriate disciplinary strategies, Hauder said in the letter. “This training will have a particular emphasis on respectful, positive strategies and the harm that can occur from strategies that do not fit this description.”

Diana Lambert: 916-321-1090, @dianalambert