Bully Teacher?/DNA Dilemma
July 16, 2014
Former kindergarten teacher Cynthia says her life was torn apart when a lesson on bullying in her classroom led to her being convicted of a misdemeanor. Is she getting a bad rap, or did she cross the line? And, the family of an adopted 7-year-old boy says a woman is harassing them and exploiting the child on the Internet, claiming he is her grandson. Teri, the boy’s adoptive mother, says the woman might be stalking her family, and she worries the child might be in danger. How can they protect themselves? And, is there any validity to the woman’s claims?
More than 16 million kids in the United States are at risk for hunger each day. Fortunately, you can help. Visit Feeding America to find your local food bank. And, help Dr. Phil raise enough money for 10 million meals. Donate today!
Bully Teacher?In 2013, former kindergarten teacher Cynthia, 44, was convicted of official oppression after prosecutors claimed she directed students to hit a 6-year-old classmate as part of a lesson on bullying. She was sentenced to two years’ probation and 30 days in jail and is appealing the decision. She says the incident was all a big misunderstanding that has left her labeled as a “bully teacher.”
The boy testified in court that he was hit by 21 fellow students, and another teacher testified that Cynthia told students to “hit him harder” — claims Cynthia denies. “Only one student hit him,” she says, adding, “I never said any of those things.” She says she is now depressed, because she might never teach again. “It is my worst nightmare,” she says. “I’m really not a bad person, but I’m broken.” She continues, “I really am not the person that they are portraying me out to be.”
In May 2010, Cynthia was accused of pulling a female kindergarten student’s hair, resulting in an assault with contact and threats charge. The case went to trial in July 2010 and was eventually dismissed. Cynthia says the girl admitted she had never been threatened by the teacher and indicated that only one strand of hair had been pulled — which Cynthia claims might have happened accidentally.
Maria, whose daughter was in Cynthia’s classroom the day the recent incident occurred, joins the show via phone. She claims her daughter did not hear Cynthia instruct students to hit the boy and did not witness any students striking him.
“So, if this had happened, in that classroom, the way that it has been described by others, you would have expected your daughter to have regaled you with tales about it, correct?” Dr. Phil asks Maria.
“Absolutely,” she responds.
DNA DilemmaTeri says a woman named Christine is harassing her and her family and exploiting Teri’s 7-year-old adopted son on the Internet, claiming he is Christine's biological grandson. She says Christine claims that her son fathered the boy with his high school sweetheart, Neva, whom Teri knows through her sister, Judy.
Neva admits she got pregnant at 16, about three months after she started dating Christine’s son in 2003, but says she made a difficult decision. “My family and I decided that we couldn’t have this baby,” she says. “At about eight weeks, I terminated the pregnancy. I had an abortion.” She continues, “This is a chapter of my life that I wanted to forget forever. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about what I did.” She says she never told Christine — or anyone else — about the abortion. “I told Christine that the baby was dead, it was gone, that was it,” she says. “I lost the baby.”
Neva says after she and her boyfriend broke up, she lost contact with him and Christine for several years — until one day, when she discovered Christine was trying to contact her. “Christine did not believe that I terminated the pregnancy,” she says, adding that she called Christine right away. “Christine believes that I gave birth to the baby, and she believes that I gave the baby up for adoption and that my friend Teri adopted the baby,” she says.
Teri denies that Neva is her son’s birth mother and claims Christine is now harassing them online. “Christine was all over the Internet claiming that we took her grandson from her,” she says. “Christine would steal pictures of my son from social media sites of my family members and friends and would post them on these blogs that she created.” Teri says she has asked Christine to remove the photos from the blogs, but she says Christine has refused. “It enrages me that she could invade my family this way,” she says.
Teri says Christine has posted her and her son’s full names online along with their home address. She says she has reported Christine to local police at least five times, contacted state police's cybercrimes unit, called the FBI and reached out to the state's child advocacy office. She says she fears Christine could come and take her son, so she avoids taking him to places where she feels he could be easily accessible to strangers.
“Is she ever going to stop, even when she’s proven wrong?” Neva asks. “That’s scary to me.”
Judy says she shares her sister’s fear that Christine could try to take the boy. “With his history, from his birth parents, we don’t want to put him at risk,” she says. “They live very close to us, and if [Christine finds] him, [his biological family] could come find him too, so we have two issues here of what we’re afraid of.”
Dr. Phil introduces attorney Christopher Chatham, who asks if Teri has been documenting Christine’s alleged misappropriation — and she says she has. “That is what builds your case,” he says.