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Mexico gym teacher placed on paid leave following April incident | Mid-Missouri News

MEXICO − A gym teacher at Eugene Field Elementary School was placed on paid leave following an incident in April.

Two parents within the district reached out to KOMU 8 about the incident. They said their second-grade son came home from school in April one day “complaining about the gym teacher.”

“My son came home, and he told me that he got hit with some balls,” Ashlay Grueninger said. “I figured they were playing dodgeball that day. But he [my son] made a statement to another student that he got hit with a bag of balls.”

Grueninger said she received a call a few days later after the incident was reported. She said Eugene Field’s principal told her he was going to have to report the incident. Grueninger said she then met up with a Family Support Division Worker who began to gather evidence, including surveillance footage.

“I went to watch the video and there is evidence that he was hit twice with balls,” Grueninger said. “Then she dragged him from the hockey box and ended up grabbing him by his arms and dragging him down the hallway.”

Eugene Field Elementary School in Mexico

The Mexico School District released a statement, which said while the teacher is on paid leave, this does not mean they believe the teacher is guilty. 

“Placement on a leave of absence is not disciplinary action or indication of guilt or innocence,” the statement said. “It is standard procedure in such cases and allows time for a thorough review of the facts.”

Ashlay Grueninger’s husband, Tim, said he has questions regarding the district’s administrative leave policy and whether there has been any incidents with the teacher prior to this.

“Mexico is my home area,” he said. “Parents are advocates for their children. That’s all we’re doing, is advocating for our child.”

Ashlay Grueninger said they will leave the district unless the teacher is removed.

“It was traumatizing,” she said. “No parent should have to sit there and watch their son be beat with a bag of balls.”

The district said it is not allowed to comment on any individual personnel and/or student issues but “are committed to ensuring the safety of students.”

“Mexico Public Schools remains committed to protecting our students and ensuring that they have a safe learning environment,” the statement said. “Please know we appreciate your cooperation and support as we continue to work together to create a culture where every student feels valued and respected.”

KOMU 8 also reached out to Eugene Field Elementary School but was asked to leave the school’s property. 

The school district did not comment any further after a second attempt and did not release the name of the teacher.