Child was punished for calling his teacher 'ma'am,' parents say

Child punished for calling his teacher 'ma'am'

TARBORO, NC (WTVD/CNN) – Parents in North Carolina are seeking answers after they say their 10-year-old son was punished by his teacher for addressing her as "ma'am."

When 10-year-old Tamarion Wilson came home from North East Carolina Preparatory School on Tuesday afternoon, his mother, Teretha Wilson, noticed something was off.

"I asked him what happened," Wilson said. "He said he got in trouble for saying 'yes, ma'am.'"

Tamarion then pulled out a sheet of paper, on which he'd been made to write the word "ma'am," four times per line on both sides – all because he'd referred to his teacher as such after she'd instructed him not to.

As part of his punishment, Tamarion had to have the paper signed by a parent.

"He had a look on his face of disappointment, shame," said McArthur Bryant, Tamarion's father.

Wilson said the teacher also told Tamarion during the encounter that if she had something, she would have thrown it at him.

Tamarion's parents said he was recently hospitalized for hallucinations and memory issues, something the teacher didn't know.

Still, they said that's no excuse for how she handled the situation.

Wilson and Bryant said their children were taught to refer to elders as "ma'am" and "sir," and that Tamarion wasn't trying to be disrespectful.

"At the end of the day, as a father, you feel kind of responsible for that. Knowing that I have been raising him and doing the best that I can, it's not acceptable," Bryant said.

When Wilson returned the signed punishment sheet to the principal, she included an extra piece of paper, on which Tamarion wrote down the definition of the word "ma'am."

During a meeting Wednesday between Wilson, the teacher and the school's principal, Wilson said the teacher acknowledged telling Tamarion she would have thrown something at him.

The teacher claimed she hadn't been serious when she said that, and had believed Tamarion was aware of that.

Following the meeting, Wilson requested her son be moved to a different classroom, which the principal agreed to do.

In a statement about the handling of the situation, a school official said: "This is a personnel matter which has been handled appropriately by the K-7 principal."

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