Harmani Osbi still holds her three front baby teeth in her hand after they came out on Tuesday. There’s only one problem. They weren’t supposed to come out anytime soon. According to the girl’s mother, they were yanked out by a worker at her school.
“She should be getting the support that she needs,” said Harmani’s mother, Tomeka Speller. “Not getting attacked in the classroom.”
Harmani, 7, attends a class for children with behavioral issues at the Solis Cohen Elementary School in Northeast Philadelphia. Speller says her daughter was chewing on her sweater and refused to stop when a specially trained school therapeutic worker told her to. Speller says the worker then forcefully pulled out the sweater, yanking out the girl’s three front teeth.
“She used excessive force,” Speller said. “She just said, ‘I’m not having this today' and she yanked it out. Just because you’re having a bad day does not mean you’re going to mistreat my child!”
School district officials reviewed witness statements and are now filing a complaint with police and the Department of Human Services.
“It’s a shocking incident,” said Philadelphia School District spokesman Fernando Gallard. “Now we have to make sure that it never happens again. We expect much more than this from a professional.”
A spokesperson for the Children's Crisis Treatment Center, where the worker was contracted and employed, released a statement on the alleged incident.
"At CCTC we take pride in providing a safe environment in which the health and well-being of our children is the top priority," said the spokesperson. "As is our policy, the individual has been suspended pending an investigation."
Speller wants the worker gone from the school for good however.
“I want her fired,” she said. “She does not need to be working with children.”
—David Chang, NBC Philadelphia
First published February 19 2014, 7:35 PM