Teacher suspended after calling student ‘ugly, fat and stupid,’ SC board says

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DARLINGTON CO, SC (WBTW) – A music teacher who worked in Darlington had his state certificate suspended after repeated incidents of alleged unprofessional conduct.

The South Carolina State Board of Education voted to suspend the education certificate of Michael Berry for two years, according to a court order. His suspension is from Nov. 12 until Nov. 11, 2021.

The board issued a public reprimand to Berry, who has more than 26 years of teaching experience, for allegedly hitting a student’s desk and using profanity in May of 2019.

Back in December of 2018, Berry was given an internal reprimand for his improper handling of two separate student disciplinary issues, according to the order. “The following month, Mr. Berry was reported to administration for insulting a student by calling the student ugly, fat and stupid,” the order states.

Berry apologized for the incident and said he lost his temper, according to the order. However, “During a meeting with the District, Mr. Berry also discussed the allegations that lead to the Order of Public Reprimand. He noted that during that incident, he did not lose his temper but was intentionally causing a scene to get the students’ attention.”

The order says Berry continued to express frustration with school staff whom he believed were coddling students. “He expressed his belief that others were taking the incident too seriously and believed no harm had been done.”

According to Darlington County School District spokeswoman Audrey Childers, Berry was employed with the district from August 2017 through April 1, 2019, at which time he resigned.

Berry was allowed to resign from the district rather than be fired. He can request to have his educator certificate reinstated at the end of the suspension.

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