When Nancy Gonzales asked her 11-year-old daughter why her hands were bruised after school Thursday, she was “horrified.”
According to her daughter, two substitute teachers had forced children in a P.E. class at Florence Middle School in Texas to do “bear crawls” on all fours around an asphalt track for 30 minutes as punishment for a rules infraction by another student the day before, Gonzales told The Austin American-Statesman.
Police and child protective services are investigating, Florence Police Chief Adam Marsh told the newspaper. Bear crawls are performed on hands and feet without knees touching the ground, Marsh said, and normally are performed to build endurance and strength. Marsh said the incident involved 16 sixth-graders at the school.
Student Michelle Gonzales told KXAN on Friday that she was still in pain. She told the station that while kids were performing the punishment, teachers yelled, “This will show your respect!” at them. The 11-year-old said she felt the substitute teachers were treating the class like soldiers, not students.
Another parent, who did not wish to be identified, told KXAN that she was not notified by the school that her son had been injured.
“My son got off easy,” she told the station. “He has some blisters, but not nearly as bad as some of the kids.”
In a statement, Superintendent Paul Michalewicz of the Florence Independent School District said administrators are “extremely concerned” about the incident and are conducting a thorough investigation. “ Our students’ safety and well being is our top priority, and we deeply regret when any student is injured at school,” Michalewicz said in the statement.