- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Georgia special-education teacher has been charged with cruelty to children after she allegedly put an autistic boy in a trash can and called him “Oscar the Grouch.”

An employee at Mt. Bethel Elementary told police she saw Mary Katherine Pursley dangling a second-grade boy upside down by his legs above a trash can and then lowering him into the receptacle up to his shoulders, according to the warrant issued by Cobb Schools’ Police, USA Today reported.

Police said that prior to the incident, the boy was acting hysterically because another student had been bothering him.

The warrant said Mr. Pursley told the boy about Oscar the Grouch from “Sesame Street” and how “if he has trashy behavior like Oscar, he’d go in the trash can,” USA Today reported.

The boy was crying and screaming “stop” as Ms. Purley asked, “Are you going to stop yelling now?” the warrant alleged.

The unnamed employee stepped in to confront Ms. Pursley and immediately notified administrators and police, USA Today reported. A warrant was issued for cruelty to children in the first degree.

Ms. Pursley, who has worked in the Cobb County school system for 21 years, was released from custody Tuesday on a $5,000 bond, the report said. She is currently on paid administrative leave during the investigation.

The school district reacted to the arrest in a statement: “The District is aware of a teacher charged by police with Cruelty to Child. It is a personnel matter under investigation and no comment can be given. Safety and security of Cobb students continues to be our number one priority. Our attention is on making every remaining day of school for our students safe, healthy, engaging, meaningful and focused on academic excellence.”

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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