Dec. 9 (UPI) — A California woman has been removed from teaching and faces criminal charges after forcibly cutting a student’s hair while she sang the wrong words in the National Anthem.
Margaret Gieszinger, 52, taught at University Preparatory High School in Visalia until cellphone video of the incident emerged on Reddit on Wednesday. She faces criminal misdemeanor charges of false imprisonment, two counts of cruelty to a child, two counts of battery and one count of assault.
If convicted of all charges, she could serve up to 3 1/2 years in prison, according to the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office.
Gieszinger was released from jail in Tulare County on Friday evening after posting $ 100,000 bail.
During the cellphone video, Gieszinger calls a male student student to the front of the first-period chemistry class, saying it is haircut day. She makes him sit, then cuts chunks of his hair while singing The Star-Spangled Banner.
As the student moves away, Gieszinger holds the scissors above her head and demands that another student come to the front of the class if no one volunteers. Gieszinger, as sings the anthem, moves between desks, lunging at a female student.
Gieszinger pulls the female student’s long hair to the side. The student yells at her to stop and joins others fleeing the room.
“He couldn’t believe what was happening,” said Mark Vogt, an attorney for the male student whose hair was cut by Gieszinger said in a CNN report. “He, frankly, didn’t know what to do. He thought to himself ‘me or anybody else, she’s coming for someone else.’ And in the video, of course, we see that later. But he was absolutely terrified.”
Students told KFSN-TV that this was not the first strange episode involving the teacher.
“We take very seriously the safety of the students in classrooms,” the Tulare County Office of Education said in a statement. “We are reviewing all available information and will take the most severe employment action appropriate.”
Gieszinger’s husband told KFSN -TV his wife’s behavior was completely out of character.
“She doesn’t do stuff like that,” he said.”It’s not her. It’s not who she is. So I don’t know what was going on with her. I don’t have any clue as to why she did that.”
Gieszinger has had her credentials suspended twice, once for a week in 2007, and another for nearly two weeks in 2016, according to the Records on the Commission on Teaching Credentialing.