Charges have been filed against a Visalia teacher who was caught on video appearing to forcibly chop off at least one student’s hair.
Sheyanne N Romero, firstname.lastname@example.org
A tuft of hair stashed inside a paper bag for safekeeping is one of several details emerging from a “disturbing” incident that threw a Visalia high school in the national spotlight last week.
Science teacher Margaret Gieszinger made headlines Dec. 5 after several videos surfaced that show the teacher seemingly forcibly cutting at least one student’s hair — all while shouting the national anthem.
Court documents detail the bizarre scene and what witnesses say happened after students ran from the University Preparatory High School classroom.
One detail: Pieces of hair found in Gieszinger’s pricey purse.
According to court documents, officers found tufts of hair in a brown sack in Gieszinger’s Rebecca Minkoff purse and in a bathroom drawer at the teacher’s home.
A pair of blue-handled Rhythm brand scissors were also discovered in the handbag, according to police reports.
A total of 20 students filed written complaints about the incident.
Court documents also shed a light on Gieszinger’s thoughts following the incident.
College of the Sequoias Police Chief Kevin Mizner asked the teacher if she knew how fearful students may have been during the incident.
Gieszinger replied, “I bet.”
According to Mizner’s report, Gieszinger also said she felt bad for cutting one of her male student’s hair but that it was “already done.”
When asked if she planned the haircut, she said “I guess.” She added she was tired of students’ “ridiculous behavior,” according to the police report.
During her interview with Mizner, Gieszinger also mentions a foreign exchange student who she said “talks a good game but cannot admit that he is not as smart as he says he is,” according to the report.
The haircut was originally planned for the foreign exchange student, but someone else took his place, Gieszinger told police.
Tulare County Office of Education, which oversees the preparatory school, cannot confirm if the foreign exchange student is a UPHS student. It is “confidential student information,” according to Rob Herman, public information officer.
A snip heard around the world
COS police responded to a classroom after reports of child endangerment involving a teacher and a “pair of scissors,” Mizner said. Students ran out of class and alerted staff.
Three videos were posted to social media showing a student sitting in a chair at the front of the classroom as the teacher cut portions of the student’s hair. She then tosses the chunks of hair behind her.
As the student attempts to get up and walk back to his desk, Gieszinger says, “You’re not done,” and motions him to sit back down.
She then chops his hair again. He again stands up and moves away from her.
Shortly after, the teacher calls out other students and then walks over to a female student. The teacher appears to grab a piece of the student’s hair and attempts to snip it.
Gieszinger was later charged with one count of false imprisonment, two counts of cruelty to a child, two counts of battery, and one count of assault.
Each count is a misdemeanor.
She was released on her own recognizance by Tulare County Judge Anthony Fultz during her arraignment on Dec. 7.
Gieszinger can’t be within 50 feet of the school or victims. Her husband was also ordered to get rid of his guns if Gieszinger was going to be home.
Gieszinger’s science classes are being handled by a “qualified” substitute, officials said.
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