School Climate & Safety

Video of Teacher Dragging Special Education Student Roils Mississippi District

By Christina A. Samuels — October 21, 2016 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A Mississippi teacher has been fired, the district superintendent has been placed on paid administrative leave, and state investigators are trying to determine whether the fired educator should lose her teaching license after video of the teacher dragging a student by the hair surfaced on Facebook earlier this month.

The student has been identified only as Taylor in news reports, which also say that she has “special needs” and is attending high school in the 5,800-student Greenville, Miss. district. The teacher, Linda Winters-Johnson, was fired by the district Oct. 17, according to the Delta Democrat-Times newspaper.

The three-minute video shows two incidents that took place in Greenville High School’s gymnasium. In the first interaction, the student appears to reach for a metal thermos. Winters-Johnson takes the object from the student and pushes her in the forehead with it.

Later, the video shows the girl lying on the floor with the teacher holding her down by her hair, while another student appears to taunt the girl. When the teacher lets go briefly and the girl reaches for the gymnasium door, the teacher pulls her away and drags her a few feet by her pony tail. The video has garnered millions of views on different social media outlets. Watch the video below:

The videos first started circulating earlier this month, but they are believed to have been recorded in late September. The district’s school board voted to place Superintendent Leeson Taylor II on leave while the investigations continue. He has served as superintendent since 2012.

Velvett Anderson, a parent interviewed by the Delta Democrat-Times, said after the teacher’s dismissal, “I think this is the step in the right direction.” But Anderson also told the newspaper: “I think there needs to be many more steps made. I think the whole system needs to be looked at. We are expecting some changes, but we aren’t expecting kids to be put in danger. This is the tip of the iceberg, so let’s keep digging.”

School board president Loretta Shannon has said that the district is also starting its own investigation. “We want to ensure we that we have a complete picture and an unbiased assessment of what occurred before we take action. But the board is taking this matter very seriously,” Shannon told the local newspaper.

The Southern Poverty Law Center also issued a statement after the videos started circulating saying that such acts traumatize children and contribute to an overall negative school environment. “In this case, the videos show that while other students and staff were present, no one intervened to stop the abuse. This is indicative of a school environment in which violence is normalized,” the group said.

State investigators have scheduled a hearing for Nov. 4 on whether to revoke Winters-Johnson’s teaching license.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety What the Research Says A Hallmark of School Shooters: Long History of Social Rejection
New research finds that shooters in K-12 schools are more often "failed joiners" than loners.
5 min read
Butler County Sheriff Deputies stand on the scene at Madison Local Schools, in Madison Township in Butler County, Ohio, after a school shooting on Feb. 29, 2016.
Sheriff deputies were on the scene of a shooting at Madison Local Schools, in Butler County, Ohio, in 2016.
Cara Owsley/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP
School Climate & Safety 4 Myths About Suspensions That Could Hurt Students Long Term
New longitudinal research shows that longer in- and out-of-school suspensions have severe consequences for students.
5 min read
Image of a student sitting at a desk in a school hallway.
School Climate & Safety Photos The Tense and Joyous Start to the 2021 School Year, in Photos
Students are headed back to school with the threat of the Delta variant looming. How is this playing out across the country? Take a look.
School Climate & Safety Former NRA President Promotes Gun Rights at Fake Graduation Set Up by Parkland Parents
A former NRA president invited to give a commencement address to a school that doesn’t exist was set up to make a point about gun violence.
Lisa J. Huriash, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
2 min read
David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, speaks during the CPAC meeting in Washington on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2010.
David Keene, the former president of the NRA, promoted gun rights in a speech he thought was a rehearsal for a commencement address to graduating students in Las Vegas. The invitation to give the speech was a set up by Parkland parents whose son was killed in the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP