ELIDA — High school math teacher and head football coach Jason Carpenter was suspended seven days without pay after standing on a student in the classroom. The decision was made by the Elida Board of Education Tuesday, according to superintendent Don Diglia.
“We met in executive session for employee discipline,” Diglia said. “It was reported that Mr. Carpenter acted inappropriately and engaged in horseplay with a student in the classroom.”
This is not the first time Carpenter has faced disciplinary action in his six-year tenure with the school. In 2012, he was suspended for five days without pay for a similiar incident.
“There was one previous situation where he was disciplined where, again, it involved horseplay with a student,” Diglia said. “That’s the reason that this discipline was as severe as it was, since this is a second offense.”
A photograph of the incident shared on the photo sharing app Instagram shows Carpenter standing on the leg of a seated student. Diglia did not identify the student.
In the photo’s comments section, one person wrote, “This is proof that my math teacher/football coach messes with me all the time,” and “he was standing on me and trying to make me sit down.”
After reading reports from the high school principal of interviews with the student and other witnesses in the classroom, Diglia maintained that the incident was actually done in jest at the time.
“I think they thought it was funny,” he said. “Even looking at the picture, it’s clear that the other students in the room were laughing. But it’s just not the kind of humor that we want our staff involved in.”
Diglia met with Carpenter to inform him of the suspension Thursday, which will take effect Monday, and noted that Carpenter regrets his actions.
“Obviously, he’s very remorseful,” Diglia said. “Mr. Carpenter tries very hard to establish positive relationships with kids, and while this was meant to be in a joking manner, it just went too far. My conversation with him was, ‘You’re the adult in the room, and you just can’t take it that far.’”
Despite this second offense, Diglia was very positive in his description of Carpenter and his motivation for teaching.
“Mr. Carpenter is very passionate about his teaching and coaching,” he said. “He’s very passionate about working with kids. It’s important to him that he establishes a positive relationship with them. He just let this situation go a little too far.”
Diglia also said that the high school principal contacted the student’s parents, and to his understanding, the matter is now closed.
The Office of Professional Conduct for the Ohio Department of Education could neither confirm nor deny that it was reviewing the incident.
Carpenter could not be reached for comment.