Several gatherings have been held in support of teacher Lisa Houston since it was announced she resigned her position at Palmetto High School following the airing of a video showing Houston standing on a desk attempting to wake up a student last week.
Monday, the Williamston Police Department was present as students and adults placed post-it notes and posters of support on the front windows and doors of the District One office.
On Thursday afternoon more than one hundred students marched from the high school to the administration offices in a show of support for Houston. Several former students spoke in support of Houston. Another show of support came when Doug Atkins, a former principal at Palmetto High who hired Houston twenty seven years ago, resigned his position on the Anderson School District One School Board. Atkins, resigned from the board Wednesday night because he was unhappy that Houston had been forced to retire, and refusing to be a part of such action. Gatherings were held Friday and again Monday afternoon in front of the District One office.
The incident occurred on May 1 and a copy of the video, taken by another student in the class, was given to the Williamston Police Department Resource Officer at Palmetto High.
According to the incident report, Principal Robbie Roach contacted RSO Jeremy Sargent about the incident. Sargent stated he was advised that the administrative team for the District had spoken with the father, mother and student, none of which felt like there was any abusive or ill motives.
According to the report, Sargent contacted the student on Wednesday morning and the student told him “that the teacher was “playing” around with him trying to get him to wake up. The student stressed that the teacher wasn’t angry, nor was she trying to hurt him. Later that day, Sargent met with the father, to obtain a statements. He also stated that he felt like the incident was done in humor and not meant for ill intent.
Anderson School District One officials released a statement to the TV station which aired the video last Wednesday, which said, “The district wishes our community to know that the school administration immediately conducted an inquiry into what occurred. The individual has already separated as an Anderson One teacher. Although the district is unable to comment in detail about the matter, the administration took seriously what occurred, and the teacher, who has had an exemplary record of teaching performance, decided of her own accord that she would retire in the best interest of her school.”
There are conflicting reports of whether Houston voluntarily retired or was pressured to resign over the incident.
When contacted this week for some clarification, School District officials said they were not able to comment on the incident.
The Anderson School District One Board announced that a special called meeting of the Board will be held Wednesday, May 9 at 6 p.m. “to receive legal advice regarding an employment matter and a student matter.” The legal advice will be received behind closed doors in Executive Session. Before going into executive session, there will be a public comment period limited to fifteen minutes.
According to the agenda, up to five individuals will be allowed to speak for up to three minutes each.
The meeting will be held in the George Seaborn Boardroom at the District One office located on Hamilton Street.
(Photos by Mike Gowan)