A North Idaho College student is pursuing battery charges against an instructor she says swatted her with a yardstick.
According to Coeur d’Alene police reports, 26-year-old Tracy Brownsville turned to another student for help during class Nov. 21 after the professor refused to acknowledge her raised hand. Angry at the disruption, the enraged instructor then approached Brownsville, asked her to leave class and began swinging a yardstick back and forth at her, striking her shin while other classmates watched.
College officials, who are withholding the professor’s name, say they are looking into the matter. Police also did not release the instructor’s name.
“We would naturally cooperate with any investigation that the police department conducts,” said Dean of College Relations Steven Schenk.
Monday, mathematics division chair Robert Murray attended the instructor’s class, which meets four more times before the semester’s end. “(Murray) has assured the student that he will continue to observe,” said Erna Rhinehart, NIC spokeswoman.
College officials say the student went to the registrar’s office after the incident and was referred to the associate dean of academic programs. They then claim that two separate meetings occurred, neither involving the student.
But Brownsville told police that the professor was brought into the office and apologized to her. She believed the apology was only given because she had notified the administration, according to the report. Brownsville filed the report seven days after the incident. She declined to discuss the matter publicly.
NIC has no policy guiding whether professors may use force to discipline students.
“Corporal punishment is a means of delivering a punishment to somebody, and that is not what we believe happened in this case,” Rhinehart said.
The University of Idaho also has no guidelines outlining how or if professors should discipline students, according to Georgia Yuan, University of Idaho counsel. “I think you’ll find policies in K-12, but not in this context,” Yuan said. “It’s not something we expect to arise.”