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Video of student meltdown posted by teacher drawing criticism

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - A Utica elementary school teacher is under fire for how he conveyed a message about the difficulty of mandatory tests for some special education students.

Over the weekend, a video depicting a child, sobbing uncontrollably, drooling and unable to answer questions on a mandatory test, appeared on the Facebook page of Utica Special Education Teacher Mark Turnpenny, with the caption: "this is one of my students taking part in the many mandated exams this year. Maybe next year, I will just take the ineffective label and not have my class go through the test torture". The teacher put Watson Williams Elementary School as his location.

Some parents are upset with how the message was conveyed.

"I think that there's a different way that he could have gone about it. Maybe the mother could have been present or shown in the caption or some way in a more positive direction, versus showing him so distraught," says parent Alyssa Guzman.

The principal of Watson Williams referred questions to the district superintendent, who had the administrator for special education services address the issue. The district official confirmed that the incident is under investigation.

"Appropriate action will be taken at the conclusion of the investigation," said Elizabeth Paul.

An official with the Utica Teacher's union said the district spoke with the teacher in the presence of a union representative and that they came out of that meeting not having decided what, if any, course of action would be taken.

Mark Turnpenney, the teacher in question, told NEWSChannel 2, "The child's mother gave me full permission to share the video. I am proud of the student. As difficult as the test was, he worked through his emotions to do the best he could on the test."

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