An SC mom says a Montessori school teacher told 8-year-old to 'commit suicide' after complaint

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A South Carolina mom says her daughter was told by a teacher at their Montessori school to commit suicide for complaining about an earache. What's worse, she claims the school has created an "us vs. them" mentality and that the administration has failed their family.

Shandi Wallace says her 8-year-old daughter, Penelope, was unnerved when her teacher at the Montessori School of Columbia told her that a week ago.

"Last week, she told her teacher that her ear was hurting, to which he replied, 'Commit suicide. Then it won't hurt,'" Wallace said in her post. "My daughter was uncomfortable about this and told me as soon as she got in the car for pickup that day. I called other parents in class to have them talk with their kids about hearing anything 'strange.' More than two other children (aged 8-9) heard it, corroborating the statement directing my daughter to "commit suicide" to solve an earache - even though some of them don't even know what suicide is."

At least two other students heard the comment as well.

She said she immediately reached out to the school but has since felt underserved. Along with her post, she claimed that a response didn't come from the school until four days later, and ended with an administrator claiming that they spoke with the teacher, expressed "that he used poor judgement" and asked if Penelope would like to skip her language classes for the rest of the school year.

"The verbal communications between us (as parents) and the administration (specifically, the head of school) have been so difficult," she continued in her post. "We have attended for three years with mostly positive experience until the past few weeks. This is the SECOND incident in which the administration has failed our family, and our complaints go nowhere."

Additionally, Wallace and her husband have removed their two children from school and been given refunds on their registration fees for the 2018-2019 school year, according to emails she sent to WIS relaying the conversations she had with school officials.

We've reached out to Montessori School of Columbia for a comment on this matter, and they sent the following statement on behalf of the Head of Schools Karen Kuse:

We deeply regret the comment made by a teacher to one of our students.  Though the teacher said he was joking, the comment was wrong, thoughtless, and contrary to the values we teach.

Wallace said she didn't have to explain what suicide is to her daughter, based on a personal experience, but they have talked about why it's troubling that her teacher made that comment.

"She knows what [suicide] it is," Wallace said. "We lost a family friend to suicide and little ears pick up things. She asked me what it meant, and we explained as best we could. Knowing what it is at a young age, she was confused as to why her teacher was talking even talking about it. She didn't understand it was a joke because she doesn't understand how that could be funny."

Check back for more updates.

Copyright 2018 WIS. All rights reserved.