Streamwood student 'livid and embarrassed' by teacher's taunt
At 330 pounds, Stephen Davis, a 15-year-old freshman at Streamwood High School, says he's used to being picked on.
But when a substitute teacher in Stephen's math class joined in on the taunting, that was too much.
"I was literally livid," he said Friday, "and embarrassed."
The unidentified teacher has been suspended while Elgin Area School District U-46 administrators investigate his taunting of the student with a crude drawing that contained a snide remark.
A day earlier, a fellow student drew a cartoonlike sketch of a person on the whiteboard at the front of the class. The teacher, Stephen and his family say, added to the mockery by adding the phrase "Stephen's ugly ass."
"Everyone told me, 'That looks like you,'" Stephen said in a phone interview with the Daily Herald that included his father and sister. "Everyone was standing there pointing at me, laughing, (while) I'm on the verge of tears."
Stephen said he has been picked on since first grade because of his weight, "but I always learned to just move along. ... (It) is basically background noise."
Yet, this is the first time a teacher mocked him in front of the class, he said.
"He should not be allowed around children, if he's going to do this to someone," Stephen said. "No other family should have to go through this suffering. This is unimaginable."
But Stephen had the presence of mind to take a video of the drawing on his smartphone and showed it to his family and posted it on YouTube. His sister, Brianna Davis, then posted it on a "School District U-46 Uncensored" Facebook page.
She said on the Facebook post that another student started the mocking but the teacher took it to another level.
"It's humiliating, and no one should ever have to go through that, and just the fact that it was a teacher makes it even worse," said the 18-year-old graduate of Streamwood High School. "You are supposed to set the example for the classroom."
Brianna Davis said watching the video "made my stomach turn and it made my blood boil."
"No one should do this to anyone, let alone a child," she said.
In a Facebook message, U-46 CEO Tony Sanders wrote, "immediate and appropriate action was taken early this morning pending the outcome of our investigation."
John Heiderscheidt, the district's coordinator of safety and security, said the Streamwood High School administration is investigating the matter thoroughly.
"We've reviewed the posting on Facebook and are examining any evidence or statements regarding the incident and anybody who might be involved," he said.
Substitute teachers are licensed by the Illinois State Board of Education and school districts hire them to fill a need.
"We're taking this extremely seriously as we do any type of relationships that we have with our students," Heiderscheidt said. "We acted upon this immediately."
Heiderscheidt added that no matter how it was reported, whether through social media, a complaint from a parent or student, or by anonymous tip, the district would have taken the same course of action.
"In any way that's reported to us, we would be taking these very serious actions of immediately addressing the behaviors ... acting upon that as clearly as possible with a thorough investigation," he said.
The Streamwood High School administration sent a message to all staff members, met with Davis' father, and spoke individually with the parents of each of the students in that class, he said.
Everett Davis, Stephen's father, said the school's two vice principals acknowledged that his son always is helpful and respectful toward his teachers.
"We've never had a problem," Everett Davis said. "This is my third child going through Streamwood High School. (Stephen) gets picked on a lot because of his size, and he can deal with that. He has always laughed it off."
He questioned how the district can have a zero-tolerance policy on bullying, if a teacher is instigating it.
"I don't know what the outcome is going to be," he said.