CYPRESS, Texas — A fifth-grade teacher was recently pulled from the classroom and banned from graduation after a controversial assignment.
“I feel like I was denied something that, not only the kids but as a teacher, I wanted to be a part of,” said Asha Hooda.
Hooda, a fifth-grade teacher at Postma Elementary in Cy-Fair ISD, introduced a behavior program that allowed students to choose who would be eligible for points that would allow them perks like extra recess.
Hooda asked each student to anonymously write down the names of classmates with bad behavior.
“I thought I was empowering them to make a decision instead of me deciding who should be a part of the rewards system,” Hooda said.
Hooda told KHOU 11 News that the students insisted she read the names aloud. That is when classmates said it felt like bullying.
“They started going ‘Oooh’ which really made me embarrassed,” admitted Hunter Jones, whose name was read more than once.
A number of parents complained to the school and demanded action against the teacher. Hooda was not only booted from teaching the last week of school, but told not to show up at graduation.
“To ridicule my child whose name was called over eight times, that is not a message I want him to walk away with,” Crystal Wilkinson, a mother, said. “When he goes to school to be educated, it should build confidence, not feel like he’s a bad student.”
The assignment ended up dividing the students and their parents.
“Our teacher, Mrs. Hooda, was bullied,” said Tanya Rollins. “I don’t think it was intended to embarrass any students at all.”
Two days after graduation, a group of parents and students held a private ceremony in Hooda’s honor.
“I want to put a happy ending note to all these kids that were crying,” said parent Claudia Salas. “They literally went home crying.”
However, the families who were upset over the assignment were also offended by the party.
“I feel it’s an unfair message sent again to our children who were ridiculed and picked on for the last week of their fifth-grade year,” Wilkinson said.
Hooda will teach fourth grade at Postma Elementary next school year.