“We are deeply concerned for the students who were subjected to the disturbing behavior in Margaret Gieszinger’s class yesterday morning.”
A California school district offered its “top counselors” to students after a teacher cut a teen’s hair in class while singing the National Anthem.
In a cellphone video posted to Reddit on Wednesday, the teacher, Margaret Gieszinger, 52, is seen calling a male student to sit in a chair at the front of the class. She then cuts and flings chunks of his hair while belting out “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
After the student gets up, Gieszinger snaps the scissors open and shut above her head and declares, “Next. I’m not done. Next.” When no one volunteers, Gieszinger commences singing and begins roaming the classroom, at one point grasping at a female student’s long hair as though to cut it.
The student yells at Gieszinger to stop and joins others fleeing the room.
Witnesses told the local CNN affiliate that Gieszinger showed up to her first period chemistry class brandishing a pair of scissors and announced that it was “haircut day.” A lawyer for the student told KFSN that his client was “absolutely terrified” before he managed to get away.
The Tulare County Office of Education released a statement saying that it had deployed the counselors to the school indefinitely to manage any psychological fallout.
“The staff at University Preparatory High School and the administration at the Tulare County Office of Education are deeply concerned for the students who were subjected to the disturbing behavior in Margaret Gieszinger’s class yesterday morning,” the statement said. “To support all students on the UPHS campus today, we have sent top counselors from our mental health services program. They will continue to be available to the students as long as necessary.”
The school district promised to take “the most severe employment action appropriate” and that Gieszinger would not return to the classroom. It also noted its close cooperation with the police department, which it thanked for a “prompt” response.
Gieszinger was arrested and pleaded guilty to six charges, including child cruelty and battery, and faces up to three and a half years in prison, according to prosecutors. She also lost her job teaching science at University Preparatory High School in Visalia.
Late Friday, Gieszinger was released on a $100,000 bail. She has been ordered to stay at least 100 yards away from University Preparatory High School
Educators’ harsh handling of Gieszinger and their therapeutic response to the students could been seen as a case of the kind of coddling of American youth that has lately seen some cultural backlash, as well as analysis by the likes of psychologist Jonathan Haidt.
In fact, it may be Gieszinger who needs mental healthcare. A number of students told reporters that Giezszinger had previously acted strangely, and she has had her teaching credentials suspended twice, in 2007 and 2016, according to the CNN affiliate, KFSN.
However, Gieszinger’s husband told the station that he had never seen her act the way she does in the cellphone video.
“She doesn’t do stuff like that,” he said. “It’s not her. It’s not who she is. So I don’t know what was going on with her. I don’t have any clue as to why she did that.”