A Concord teacher is under investigation after she was accused of hitting students in class with an unknown object - which was caught on video - even though one parent said he knows the teacher and thought she used the instrument as a form of encouragement.
Another expert said there wasn't enough on the video to determine whether any abuse had occurred.
The controversy in question began from a cell phone video shot by a student on March 28 and was later posted on a Facebook page, according to Oak Grove Middle School Principal Lisa Murphy Oates.
That video was obtained by Claycord.com and became viral on Thursday. The blurry and choppy images show a teacher at the middle school with some sort of of object in her hand, which some are describing as a cardboard tube or rolled-up paper. The angle is somewhat obscure, and it's hard to tell exactly what is happening. What's also unclear is the exact context of the swat to a student's shoulder.
From the video, the teacher's body language shows that she does not appear to be angry.
On the tape you can hear what sounds like "Ahh, Ahh" after the object lands. There is also giggling on the the tape. Some of the video was shot under a student's desk; students are not supposed to use cell phones in class.
Oates told NBC Bay Area that students came to her after spring break on Monday and told her about the video. Oates then talked to the teacher, who was placed on administrative leave after that conversation. Oates said she took the matter seriously, and acted as if she was a parent with a child in the class. She also said she told police about the matter.
She would not disclose many other details, citing personnel reasons, other than to say an incident like this has "never happened before."
Bill Grimm, a child welfare attorney at Oakland's National Center for Youth Law, reviewed the video at NBC Bay Area's request. And from what he could tell, it was "too difficult" to say whether any type of abuse occurred. He thought at best, the teacher could use some better classroom management techniques.
Still, he said, the Mount Diablo Unified School District acted appropriately by telling police and placing the teacher on leave as the matter is investigated.
The teacher has some supporters.
Pat Noonan, a volunteer and parent at Oak Grove Middle School, told NBC Bay Area that he thought the teacher would tap students with the object to convey a message such as, "good job."
Noonan did acknowledge, however, that in today's age, teachers can't physically touch students at all without having some repercussions. Some students, however, apparently didn't like this teacher and felt as though she was whacking them.
The issue was generating much community and media attention on Thursday because of the video.
One student, Linda Wau, said she had "heard about" the incident and that "kids are talking about it."