An Anson County schoolteacher has made national headlines after admitting to slapping a student in June. Pat Frost, who teaches English as a second language (ESL) in Anson County Schools, has been on administrative leave since the incident at Anson High School.
Frost claims she acted in self-defense when she slapped the student, Johnathan Smith, 18. Smith alleges that Frost asked him to pull up his baggy shorts, and when he didn’t, she followed him around the parking lot. An altercation ensued, during which Frost slapped Smith, and he slapped her back. Both have filed charges of assault against each other.
Frost’s attorney, Josh Van Kampen of Charlotte, said that in her version of events, “When Pat followed him out there, he turned and charged at her saying he was going to [expletive] her up. Pat feared that the student was going to strike her. In that instant, her reflex was to get distance between them and she smacked his face in the process. The student then struck Pat on the side of her head.”
In a report by WBTV-3 out of Charlotte, which made national news agency The Huffington Post’s front page and cnn.com’s regional pages Friday, Van Kampen added, “[Smith] then took off his shirt and started pounding on nearby cars in the parking lot yelling that he was going to get her fired and hoped that she would be killed.”
Frost and Van Kampen met with Anson County Schools Superintendent Dr. Greg Firn on July 17, and now await his decision on whether or not Frost can return to her job. Van Kampen said that Frost was questioned for more than an hour about what happened, and that Firn’s attorney denied his request to watch the surveillance video and allow Frost to narrate what had happened during the incident.
“The N.C. Public School law allows school systems to keep a tenured teacher on a paid suspension for a ‘reasonable period of time’ not to exceed 90 days where ‘additional investigation is necessary,’” Van Kampen said. “We think the facts and circumstances of this case are such that using the full 90 days is patently unreasonable.”
Van Kampen said he has considered getting an injunction to end Frost’s suspension, but by the time the process is completed, the suspension will be close to the 90-day mark anyway.
After Frost’s story hit the national news over the weekend, an online petition supporting her reached more than 1,100 signatures. “Pat’s story seems to have really struck a chord,” Van Kampen said. “The public understands that teachers are increasingly disrespected, threatened and in many cases even assaulted by students. We should be hugging and thanking those teachers for persevering and still doing the job for such modest pay, not turning our backs on them when they’re forced to defend themselves.”
Van Kampen maintains that if the school system moves forward with Frost’s dismissal, he will appeal the decision.