Child Abuse

Awful Teacher Locked Kid In Closet For ‘Playing Too Much’ – Then Went Home Sick For The Day

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promo214096977.jpg?w=415Let’s do that thing where you guys tell me all the reasons why homeschooling is so great  because stories like these make me never want to put my own kid on that big yellow bus again. A teacher in Memphis, Tennessee locked a FIVE-YEAR-OLD (Not that this would be OK with a kid of any age, but five? I have ketchup that is older than five-years-old!) in a closet because according to the little girl, she was “playing too much.” Then the teacher left school because she was feeling sick, and didn’t bother telling anyone the little girl was still locked in the closet. The child, Akeelah Joseph was discovered by the substitute who discovered the little girl shivering and complaining of being cold.

The teacher, Kristin Ohsfeldt, has been suspended.

Now, I don’t know if you guys think of this, but do you know what I think of when I think of someone locking someone in a closet?

The worst part about this is that little Akeelah is also asthmatic, so what would have happened if she was locked away and had a life-threatening asthma attack?

The other worst part about all of this? It may not have been the first time. from WREG:


“I was playing too much,” said Akeelah. “I almost peed on myself if I didn’t make it the bathroom.”

The principal and mother filed a police report. It states other students told police “that this isn’t the first time that [their teacher] has done this.”


And the other other other worst part about this? Now Akeelah is afraid to go back to school.

I’m sure teaching is extremely difficult and trying at times. I think it must be the hardest and most important job in the world. But if you think that locking a child in a closet is the correct form of discipline for any child, than you should probably find a new career path. Like never being allowed to work with children again.

(Image: wreg)


  1. Véronique Houde

    January 16, 2014 at 9:06 am


  2. Tiffany

    January 16, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Is there a reason she was suspended and not immediately fired? I mean, is there an actual chance she’ll be allowed to go back in that classroom? This whole story makes me want to throat punch someone.

    • Eve Vawter

      January 16, 2014 at 9:31 am

      yeah I will see if more info comes out so I can update

    • Natasha B

      January 16, 2014 at 10:30 am

      Def want to see an update.

    • EX

      January 16, 2014 at 9:32 am

      I am assuming she was suspended while they investigate. I can’t see this ending with anything other than her being fired, being convicted of and hopefully serving jail time for child endangerment and never being allowed to work with kids again. Anything less would be a serious miscarriage of justice.

    • Lackadaisical

      January 16, 2014 at 11:01 am

      Yes, I am sure that the teacher will be fired but they will need to investigate and follow the proper process. If the US is anything like the here in the UK then the teacher will never teach again but with something serioius like this the school will have to make sure that the process is followed properly so that she can’t appeal it on any grounds whatsoever and also so that she can’t avoid the legal consequences. In the meantime the teacher gets no contact with kids. Just because she isn’t sacked yet doesn’t mean they aren’t taking this seriously. I notice that they also called the police, for example.

    • Kay_Sue

      January 16, 2014 at 2:32 pm

      Exactly. This is one of those scenarios where they will want to make sure that they cross every “t” and dot every “i” so that there’s no wiggle room for appeals or a lawsuit from the teacher.

    • Sri

      January 16, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      She’s probably suspended because a lot of teachers’ unions have requirements on investigations and appeals windows. Sometimes, these requirements protect bad teachers for a few weeks until the requirements are met. Other times, they protect good teachers who really didn’t do anything wrong, but other staff might not like them, or the district is out to get them (like our former union president, who administrators faked bad reports about to get her fired because she was fighting a change to the contract). Yeah, it sucks that it protects this teacher, but it either protects her for a few weeks before she gets fired or it protects nobody.

    • AugustW

      January 16, 2014 at 10:41 pm

      It is very hard to fire a teacher, even with really obvious cause.

  3. JLH1986

    January 16, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Dear God in Heaven. I hope she doesn’t have children at home. If she’s doing this at work, I’m terrified to know what she’s doing behind closed doors

    • khs

      January 16, 2014 at 11:25 am

      I looked her up and saw that she has a pinterest account. It said “kindergarten teacher and mom.” I swear to God my stomach turned when I read that.

    • JLH1986

      January 16, 2014 at 1:11 pm

      No. No. No. No. No. I can’t….

    • Kay_Sue

      January 16, 2014 at 2:32 pm

      Well that just added a whole new terrifying aspect to this story.

    • Larkin

      January 16, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      Hopefully the police investigation includes her own children, then… seems pretty logical to assume she’s abusing her own children as well.

    • disqus_A8n70bQbM8

      February 22, 2014 at 1:48 am

      How do I find her on Pinterest? I can’t seem to by doing general search using “kindergarten teacher and mom”. Might as well give that witch a piece of my mind. My wife and I couldn’t have a baby. But it don’t make me any less caring. It also just burns my ass to see scumbags who are able to.

  4. keelhaulrose

    January 16, 2014 at 9:29 am

    There is no excuse for doing something like this anywhere ever. I just can’t…
    If she’s not fired and blacklisted I’ve lost faith in humanity.

  5. EX

    January 16, 2014 at 9:34 am

    If you’re so burned out from teaching that locking a child in a closet seems like an OK “discipline technique” you need to seriously rethink your career.

    • Kay_Sue

      January 16, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      Damn. I should read all the comments before submitting–I said almost the same thing. So true.

    • EX

      January 16, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      No worries. Great minds and all that…

  6. Mila

    January 16, 2014 at 9:36 am

    This reminds me of a story my Dad told us about my aunt back in elementary school. She has always been a bigger girl and was having trouble keeping up with her gym class when they went jogging. The principal then locked her in a closet (I believe it was one where you had to remain standing) as punishment for the rest. of. the. day.
    My grandfather found out and went in person to visit the principal and put the fear of God into him. Never happened again. At least with this story it wasn’t 2014…jesus.

    • Eve Vawter

      January 16, 2014 at 9:44 am

      omg this may be one of the worst stories ever. Your poor aunt!

    • Theresa Edwards

      January 16, 2014 at 11:32 am

      I immediately thought of the chokey in Matilda. That shit terrified me as a kid

  7. Janok Place

    January 16, 2014 at 9:41 am

    For us, we live in a rural community with a host of its own issues. There is a lot of bigotry, and not exactly a world renown level of public education. We intend to homeschool, I know it has a bad rap but it’s an important decision every parent has to make based on their own circumstances. We are in a position where we can allow them to travel, experience big cities and other ethnicities and life styles…. The big assumption everyone makes is homeschooled kids are overly sheltered. I’m in a position where I am able to take responsibility for their protection and I intend to. My heart breaks for these kids and parents but it’s my experience in life thus far that these terrible things don’t just happen in other worlds far, far away. They can happen in your town. Your neighborhood and your life. It may not always get the same publicity but I’ve heard some pretty effed up stuff about our communi (after we moved here).

    • jane

      January 16, 2014 at 10:22 am

      I’m a public school teacher, so obviously I generally think that school systems work and have value etc etc. But I also have two kids and if I thought that sending my kids to school was going to damage them (because of bullying, sexual harassment, cruelty and incompetence, etc) I would homeschool them so fast your head would spin. Even though most of our math lessons would be along the lines of “given mommy’s body weight, how many ounces of beer does she need to consume each hour to be sober enough to teach you and yet buzzed enough to not care that she’s homeschooling and with you all the time?”

    • Janok Place

      January 16, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      I absolutely value what you do and appreciate the public school system for what it is. Like I said, I think it really depends on so many factors that it is impossible to fit every family into the same mold. Out in the back woods farm country there are… Lessons… That I don’t think need to be taught to the kids. (immigrants aren’t evil, women aren’t stupid, just because you don’t get in fist fights for fun does not make you”gay” AND if you are gay, that is ok!)

      *sigh* this small town looked really, really nice as an outsider. I suppose I was just shocked to find out how far behind it really was. I’m far from “big city” but some of the things just baffle me out here.

  8. LadyClodia

    January 16, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Reminder: The Trunchbull’s techniques are not something to aspire to.

    This is really awful, though, and I’m so glad that Akeelah is OK. It’s no wonder she’s scared of school now.

    • pixie

      January 16, 2014 at 11:21 am

      Yay Matilda reference!

      I haven’t heard any reference to that book/movie in ages.

  9. G.E. Phillips

    January 16, 2014 at 10:08 am

    I don’t care how hard being a teacher is, this a big fat NOPE. Shame on everyone involved.

    • Lackadaisical

      January 16, 2014 at 11:09 am

      From the sounds of it the teacher was the only one responsible. The substitute freed the kid and reported it immediately and the head teacher didn’t just start the disciplinary investigation and process but also called the police. I really do hope this is one awful, awful teacher who slipped through the cracks. With a police report filed I would imagine the whole school will be investigated to see how the teacher could have got away with this so if anyone turned a blind eye before it was exposed then they will be dealt with too, I would hope. I only really know the UK education system but I can’t imagine it would be much different on a case like this.

    • G.E. Phillips

      January 16, 2014 at 11:13 am

      This apparently wasn’t an isolated incident. And there should be protocol, monitoring, etc. The school holds some responsibility, even if the teacher was the only one directly at fault.

    • Lackadaisical

      January 16, 2014 at 11:24 am

      I agree totally. I am trying to imagine how one of the teachers in my school would manage to hide doing things like that from the entire rest of school and I can’t quite get my head around it.

    • Fuzzy Dolphin

      January 16, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      The 5 yr old’s involved

    • G.E. Phillips

      January 16, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      OBVIOUSLY I didn’t mean the 5 year old. Gah.

  10. Elizabeth Mangum

    January 16, 2014 at 10:11 am

    I’m listening to Memphis news now – The teacher was at one point in charge of discipline for the entire elementary school. Memphis is so awesome.

  11. Alex Lee

    January 16, 2014 at 10:23 am

    I think they should make Akeelah honorary Principal for the day. The teachers would show her respect and she’d get to play as much as she wanted.

    The grownups might learn a thing or two.

  12. Natasha B

    January 16, 2014 at 10:29 am

    I’m sure she won’t be fired, as horrible as it is. Especially if she has tenure. It’s TN. I know that sounds horrible, but I went to HS in a small town in TN. Let’s just say it was culture shock. They still ‘paddled’ kids and all sorts of other inappropriate crap. There weren’t a lot of boundaries between students/teachers, which was not always a great thing. And this was only 10 years ago.

    • Lackadaisical

      January 16, 2014 at 11:12 am

      “Paddling” a kid is still legal in some schools? That actually shocks me more than a lone very, very bad teacher.

    • EX

      January 16, 2014 at 11:22 am

      Corporal punishment in schools is not illegal in 19 states (mostly in the south), although individual school districts may have policies against it.

    • Natasha B

      January 16, 2014 at 11:29 am

      Yes, it is. Even in elementary. One of my acquaintances from HS now has kiddos in the elementary, had a joking post about how FutureDudeBro took his paddling like a man.
      And, mind you, this was not a ‘poor’ small town school. Middle class and educated.

    • Lackadaisical

      January 16, 2014 at 2:51 pm

      I find the idea of a teacher paddling the bottom of a girl who is approaching sexual maturity quite worrying, personally.

      To be honest it is all a strange concept to me. It was banned here in 1987 (I think it may have been allowed for posh kids in private schools for a bit longer) and although I was 10 at the time I have no memory because it was considered a thing of the past in most schools long before then. In one of my schools when my year started school at 4 (1981) the older kid of 11 had tales of kids getting spanked when they were younger (so 1975ish at a guess). No one I know of my age (mid 30s) has any direct recollection of spankings in school that I am aware of.

    • Sara

      January 16, 2014 at 2:26 pm

      In my parish unless your parents sign a specific paper at the school board office then corporal punishment is still a viable punishment option. But the principals in my area aren’t all assholes so paddlings have been phased out.

  13. gothicgaelicgirl

    January 16, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Absolutely terrifying, she doesn know it’s the Technology Era and not the corporal punishment era right?
    My father got beaten and locked in a cupboard by a teacher…in 1948!!!

    • pixie

      January 16, 2014 at 11:18 am

      My dad got the strap in front of his entire school in the ’60s when he threw a snowball in the general direction of a teacher (it might have been at the teacher, knowing my dad). He would’ve been super pissed if I had that happen to me in the ’90s/early 2000s.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      January 16, 2014 at 12:46 pm

      Yeah my dad was sat in the front row on his first day, aged 5.
      The teacher knocked over a bottle of ink when she turned her back and blamed him.
      He was beaten not because the ink spilled but because he dared to say it was the teacher’s fault and not his.
      He said he still had nightmares about that teacher well into his teens.

    • pixie

      January 16, 2014 at 1:02 pm

      That’s awful!
      My dad doesn’t seem to really care that he got the strap, he’s the kind of guy who normally gives no fucks. He was also like 10 or 11 when it happened and not a terrified little guy.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      January 17, 2014 at 6:34 am

      the ironic thing is, my father’s a singer, and he actually saw this teacher at one of his concerts lol, he was beyond freaked!

  14. Aimee Beff

    January 16, 2014 at 11:21 am

    I’m so glad that we’re working on the education problems in this country by … making students scared to come to school.

    I used to be a teacher and I will be the first to say HELL YES, it is hard some days. I have a lot of trouble, however, imagining a day so hard that it would make me think Kindergarten Solitary Confinement is a good idea for a five year old who was playing too much. OR, YOU KNOW, ANY KID, EVER.

  15. Fuzzy Dolphin

    January 16, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    There are days I wish my office had a closet, so I could lock myself in it, take a long nap, then pee on myself too

  16. Rachel Sea

    January 16, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    I’m not surprised that no one knew. It’s the only school experience those kids will have had, they don’t know that’s not supposed to happen. What kid is go to go home and tell their parent that they got in trouble and were punished? I’m guessing none of them.

    My teachers whacked us with rulers, (which was illegal in my state) and none of the parents ever knew. When I came home with welts on my hands I’d say I hurt myself playing. I knew from reading books about earlier eras that kids got hit for being bad, so I never thought that the teachers might not be allowed to hit us.

  17. Kay_Sue

    January 16, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Being a teacher is stressful, and as a teacher’s child, I can absolutely attest to the stress it places on them…but if locking them in a closet is your go-to classroom management strategy, you need to seriously reevaluate your choice of profession.

    I want to give this little girl a hug. A huge hug.

  18. AugustW

    January 16, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    What the fuck is “playing too much”?????

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