PSC Exonerates GAE Member Of Putting “Choke Hold” on 5th Grade Student 

“I will never join another professional organization,” said Stephanie LaShan Fleet after a concerned citizen filed a complaint with the Professional Standards Commission against the GAE member for allegedly putting a choke-hold on a 5th grade student. Stephanie Fleet teaches 5th grade at Pleasantdale Elementary, DeKalb County Schools. In May 2014, the 5th grade team decided to have several practice runs for their Honors Day Program scheduled for the next morning. As Ms. Fleet was Grade Chair, she was in charge of facilitating and handling the entire 5th grade event that would occur the following day. As she entered the cafeteria and the students were getting settled in their chairs – all 102 - Ms. Fleet noticed one student that had previous discipline issues started bullying other students. Because Ms. Fleet is so good at classroom management and discipline, other teachers and the administration look to her for help, particularly with this particular child. He had been brought to her for timeouts throughout that entire year because she knew how to de-escalate and handle his disruptions. 

Ms. Fleet immediately and appropriately intervened in an effort to de-escalate the situation. She placed one hand on the back of his chair and asked him move to the tables in the back of the cafeteria. “If you don’t want to participate you don’t have to,” Ms. Fleet said. The student jumped up, however, lifting the chair up with both hands in the front. He then raised his fist like he was going to punch Ms. Fleet. He grabbed the pen out of her hand and threw it across the cafeteria. He swung at her again and again. Ms. Fleet dropped her papers and caught his fist.  Then he swung at her with his other fist. She caught that fist. Then he went to kick her. That’s when she spun him around and placed her arms across his chest and shoulders in a restraint she had been taught the previous year in a school district workshop. She was holding both his fists. Her arms never touched his neck at any time. To its credit, the PSC found no probable cause that Ms. Fleet violated the educator code of ethics. “I am very grateful that I had GAE’s team on my side. My UniServ Directors went to bat for me and their network attorney represented me with real passion. Thank you GAE!”