Whether or not a teacher should always grant a child's request for a bathroom break is debatable. Some think students often say they need the toilet when, really, they just want to skip out of class, while urologists say nature's call shouldn't be ignored. The debate has taken on new urgency in San Diego after a high school freshman claimed that a tenured teacher refused to let her use the toilet, and instead made her pee in a bucket.
The Patrick Henry High School art teacher, Gonja Wolf, has been placed on administrative leave while the San Diego Unified School District investigates the girl's claims, reports the Los Angeles Times. A complaint filed last week by the student's attorney, claims Wolf told her on Feb. 22 that she couldn't use a school bathroom, and had to instead go to another room, urinate in a bucket, and pour the contents down a sink.
After the 14-year-old did so, news of the incident naturally spread around the campus. The teasing was so relentless that the student says she "no longer feels safe or comfortable" at the San Carlos neighborhood school. The complaint, filed March 8, lists damages in excess of $25,000 for psychological and medical treatment, and asks the district to pay for the student to finish up her high school years at a private school.
The claim states that the high school had a policy of denying student requests to use the bathroom during class. District spokeswoman Linda Zintz told the San Diego Union-Tribune that this wasn't true. School administrators, she said, simply advised teachers to limit the number of trips kids could take.
This isn't the first time a teacher's denial of a bathroom request has led to a student filing a formal complaint. In 2007, an eighth grade student at a Sacramento middle school claimed that his teacher forced him to urinate into a Gatorade bottle as classmates turned their heads away. When district officials investigated, however, they cleared the teacher of wrongdoing, and said the boy had acted on his own.
In the current complaint, the girl claims that her teacher was trying "to humiliate and disgrace" her. The investigation has yet to confirm or deny the allegation.
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