Teacher's Conduct Called Into Question
Posted on February 13, 2013
The conduct of a fifth grade teacher was called into question when he was called to testify in General Sessions Court on January 24.
Judge Damron held a preliminary hearing to determine probable cause on whether the state could charge Matthew Orgeron, an art teacher at Southside Elementary School, with misdemeanor assault. After hearing from a student and another teacher, Damron bound the case over to the grand jury.
Orgeron is accused of assault because he brushed a student’s hair on picture day and requested shoulder massages from students during class. A similar, but separate charge was dismissed last month after a grand jury failed to indict him on any charges.
This misdemeanor assault charge for inappropriate touching stems from an incident on picture day when Orgeron encouraged a female student to wear her hair down in her school picture. The student testified that Orgeron made her uncomfortable when he removed her ponytail and brushed her hair. The student also testified that she had, on occasion, braided Orgeron’s hair in class and that the shoulder massages she gave him were during class in a room full of other students -never privately.
Orgeron’s attorney, Robert Massey, said that his client’s behavior “was not criminal by any stretch of the imagination.” Judge Damron agreed, saying that although the actions were inappropriate, he didn’t know if they were criminal. Interim Director of Schools Debbie Braden said that an internal investigation was conducted and Orgeron has been permitted to continue teaching at the school.
Orgeron’s case is expected to be presented to the grand jury as early as today.