Opinion Brief

The gym teacher who says he was beaten up by a first grader

A burly New York teacher is suing the city for the physical and emotional damage he allegedly endured at the hands of a 6-year-old student

The story: A former college football star and gym teacher at P.S. 330 in Queens, New York, is suing the city after he allegedly endured physical and emotional damage after being attacked by a 6-year-old pupil. According to John Webster, 27, first-grade student Rodrigo Carpio began attacking him after he reprimanded the boy for horseplay. Carpio reportedly "kicked and pinched" Webster, as well as the Elmhurst school's principal, and the school's security officer, during his tantrum, and the police were called. "He turned around and belted one last really good kick at my knee... that's when I heard the pop in my leg," Webster told PIX11. Webster claims that the must now wear a brace on his right ankle and knee, and he has sought counseling due to the emotional stress the incident has caused him. Now that he has been ordered to return to work, Webster is seeking compensation from the city.

The reaction: "The lawsuit is totally absurd," Jorge Carpio, Rodrigo's father, told the New York Post. "How could my little boy do so much damage? My poor son." While Rodrigo's family admits that their son has had some behavioral issues, they maintain that he has received treatment and is doing better this year. Andrew Siben, the teacher's lawyer, disagrees. "This kid is clearly a tiny terror," he says. "It's sad that teachers like Mr. Webster are not offered protection from someone who can endanger other teachers and students." Perhaps all sides in this story are partially right, says Danielle Sullivan at Babble. Carpio's parents are at least partially responsible for their son's behavior. And while Webster deserves to not be physically abused by a student, "you would think that a 220-pound male teacher would be safe when walking with a pint-sized 6-year-old." Sure, little kids can be surprisingly strong, but it's "highly unlikely" that Webster was traumatized over the incident. "I mean, really," says Sullivan. "If he is, he shouldn't be teaching to begin with."

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