Detroit teacher placed on administrative leave, accused of shoving special needs student

Posted at 6:50 PM, Sep 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-13 22:56:25-04

Inza Sturdivant-Bryant is accused of using physical force on a special needs student at Mumford High School Tuesday.

"I just don't appreciate them lying on me," said Bryant to 7 Action News as she sat on her lunch break outside district offices Thursday.

She must remain at the offices during school hours now that she's been placed on administrative leave. 

Bryant claims the ninth grader was being disruptive with his cell phone and she demanded that he hand it over. The student complied but then Bryant claims he began yelling that she give his phone back. 

Bryant said the student was in her "personal space" when she tried to "guide" him away from her, but she also said she may have bumped him with her arm. 

A source who has seen surveillance video of the encounter told 7 Action News that what Bryant did was inexcusable, adding that she is seen shoving the student who is physically impaired and could not have posed a threat. 

Bryant said another school employee responded to the commotion and asked her for the student's cell phone, but Bryant refused to hand it over. 

She said that the employee engaged her in a sort of tug of war over the door as Bryant wanted to close it. 

School administrators then reportedly ordered Bryant to report to human resources. 

"I did not sock him. I did not hit him. I was not pushing him," Bryant said. "I'm a teacher and I was teaching him a social skill."

She added in a long letter written to one school board member: "I am beginning to think he is a plant to destroy me and my career."

Bryant said she believes a school administrator is trying to push her into early retirement, claiming the administrator is jealous of her credentials.  

A hearing will be held next week for Bryant. Several violations will be reviewed, including corporal punishment and endangering the safety of others. 

Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti released the following statement to 7 Action News:

"Our new district holds the highest level of expectation for our employees and staff who serve students, especially those with special needs. The employee in question, who has a history of inappropriate behavior and disciplinary action, will continue to be on administrative leave. The employee will be provided a hearing and an opportunity to respond to the allegations. In this case, however, based upon preliminary video evidence, the district is likely to recommend termination to the School Board. The district will not tolerate behavior from employees or staff which contradicts our core values and compromises in any way the safety of our students. The actions of this particular employee do not represent the hard work, love, and dedication of our employees.”