Middle School Teacher Suspended for Allegedly Using Hand Sanitizer to Wash Student's Mouth
A middle school teacher has been suspended after an investigation found she pumped hand sanitizer into the mouth of a student she accused of talking too loudly.
Guyette Duhart — a science teacher at Polo Park Middle School in Wellington, Florida — allegedly responded to a misbehaving student by threatening to wash his mouth with the disinfectant on Oct. 14, according to the Palm Beach Post.
“You need to have your mouth washed with soap,” Duhart allegedly told the boy, according to a summary of an investigation by the Palm Beach County School Board, as cited by NBC News.
Six students told investigators that Duhart then grabbed a bottle of Up and Up Hand Sanitizer from her desk, approached the student, then pumped the cleaning fluid into his mouth.
Duhart is denying the allegations, a representative of the school district said.
“She is appealing and remains reassigned from the school pending the outcome of that appeal,” the district said in a statement to PEOPLE. They declined to disclose further details.
During the investigation, Duhart — who did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment — claimed she only held the bottle near the student, who grabbed the bottle and squirted the fluid into his mouth himself, according to the report.
Reportedly, after spitting the fluid onto the floor, the student then walked out of class and returned a short time later.
“I was really unaware that anything occurred until he left,” Duhart allegedly told investigators. “He returned to the class and I allowed him to wash out his mouth.”
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The student’s allegations were confirmed by the district, and Duhart’s reassignment outside of the school and a 10-day suspension was approved this week. The suspension will begin March 12 and Duhart will not receive pay, according to NBC News.
The suspension is the first disciplinary action levied against Duhart in her 12 years at the district, according to the Palm Beach Post.
Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can lead to alcohol poisoning if “more than a couple mouthfuls” are ingested, according to the Centers for Disease Control. U.S. poison control centers received almost 85,000 calls regarding hand sanitizer exposures in children from 2011 to 2015, they reported.