VISALIA, Calif. (AP) — A high school teacher in central California was arrested on suspicion of felony child endangerment after forcibly cutting the hair of one of her students while singing the national anthem, authorities said.
Margaret Gieszinger was arrested Wednesday after videos posted to social media showed a student at University Preparatory High School in the city of Visalia sitting in a chair at the front of the classroom as Gieszinger cuts his hair.
In a video obtained by KFSN-TV, the 52-year-old science and chemistry teacher is heard belting the “Star Spangled Banner” while cutting chunks of the boy’s hair and tossing them behind her. The circumstances of what led the teacher to cut the student’s hair were not immediately known.
After cutting the boy’s hair, Gieszinger grabs at a girl’s long hair before the students make a run for it out of the classroom, the video shows.
Officers responded Wednesday to the high school housed on the grounds of the College of the Sequoias, a California community college, after receiving reports of child endangerment involving a teacher and a “pair of scissors,” Police Chief Kevin Mizner told the Vasalia Times Delta. Mizner did not immediately return a message from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Rob Herman, a spokesman for the Tulare County Office of Education, said counselors were made available Thursday to support students at the public high school.
“We take very seriously the safety of the students in classrooms and on the COS campus,” Herman said in an email.
Herman said Gieszinger “will not return to her classroom,” but wouldn’t say whether she was fired.
Gieszinger was hired in August to teach at the high school part-time, he said.
Gieszinger’s teaching credential was suspended for 14 days in 2016 “for immoral or unprofessional conduct,” according to the state’s Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Her teaching credential was also suspended for two weeks in 2017 but the commission does not list a reason.
Lilli Gates, one of Gieszinger’s students, told the newspaper the incident was out of character for the teacher.
“When everything was going on I was terrified, and I so badly wanted to blame her,” Gates said. “She is a loving and kind lady. She is usually all smiles and laughs. This is not the Miss G. we know and love.”
Gieszinger is being held on $100,000 bail. It was not immediately known if she has an attorney.