Teacher charged for putting child with autism in trash

A Georgia special education teacher was charged with cruelty to children after putting a student with autism in a trash can and comparing him to Oscar the Grouch.

According to the warrant issued by Cobb Schools Police, an employee at Mt. Bethel Elementary witnessed special needs teacher Mary Katherine Pursley holding a second grade boy upside down by his legs above a trash can. The witness saw Pursley lower the boy into the trash can up to his shoulders.

Police say the incident happened during the after school program. The boy came inside upset about another student bothering him. He was screaming and would not calm now. According to the warrant, that's when Pursley talked with the victim about Oscar the Grouch and his "trashy behavior" and told him, "if he has trashy behavior like Oscar, he'd go in the trash can."

After hanging him upside down inside the trash can, Purley allegedly asked, "Are you going to stop yelling now?" The boy was crying, yelling, and screaming "stop".

The unnamed employee stepped in to confront Pursley and immediately notified administrators and police.

Pursley was removed from her teaching position, and a warrant was issued for Cruelty to Children in the 1st degree.

The Cobb County school system released a statement in reaction to the arrest:

The District is aware of a teacher charged by police with Cruelty to Child. It is a personnel matter under investigation and no comment can be given. Safety and security of Cobb students continues to be our number one priority. Our attention is on making every remaining day of school for our students safe, healthy, engaging, meaningful and focused on academic excellence.

A district spokesman did confirm Pursley is currently a special education teacher at Mt. Bethel Elementary School. She's been with the district for 21 years. Right now, she's on paid administrative leave during the investigation.

The Cobb County Sheriff's Office confirms she was released Tuesday on a $5,000 bond.

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