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Middle School Teacher Fired Amid Bullying Allegations

GRAND PRAIRIE (CBSDFW.COM) - A Grand Prairie teacher has been fired amid allegations she berated and bullied students preparing for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test.

The teacher, Dedi Townsend, was an educator at Truman Middle School.

The alleged incident happened at the school on Friday. By Monday morning Townsend had been removed from the classroom. One family said her dismissal has exposed the type of pressure kids are facing to pass the upcoming basic skills tests.

A Truman 8th grader said Townsend pressed her nose to his face on Friday and yelled at him when he had trouble with preparing for the STAAR test. "I asked her for help and she wouldn't help me," he said.

The boy's mother, Angela Luckey, was shocked. "My first reaction was, what!"

Luckey not only complained to school administrators, but also filed an assault case with the Grand Prairie Police Department. "I was upset and I was angry."

Grand Prairie Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Susan Hull issued a statement that said, "Student welfare and safety is our number one priority. This conduct is unacceptable and does not represent the caliber of our teaching staff."

The incident raises questions about how much pressure should be placed on students to pass the standardize tests that educators admit are challenging.

Assistant Richardson ISD Superintendent Chris Goodsen said the tests are, "…definitely more rigorous compared to testing from previous years."

Goodsen said his district emphasizes positive motivation to get teachers and students prepared for the STAAR test, which was introduced just two years ago.

"The teacher plays an important role in adjusting and adapting to where the child is going.  If they're becoming too stressed out they'll give them that pat on the back – the principals will do that for the teachers."

Future efforts not withstanding, Luckey worries her son will struggle to pass the test now that his confidence has been shaken. "This has been a setback for him, because the teacher has not been providing the type of help he needs in math."

Luckey thinks the school district should compensate her son by offering him private tutoring.

CBS 11 News was unable to reach former Truman teacher Dedi Townsend for comment. According to a statement on the Grand Prairie ISD website, that has since been removed, Townsend had been at Truman or two years.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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