A Florida teacher is facing misdemeanor battery charges after allegedly biting two students over a jar of pickles. Rhonda Rice told school administrators that she was just “playing around with students,” A Polk County Public Schools spokesperson said. However, authorities didn’t find it very funny.
- It was a month before anything was done about it. Kathy Toro, whose 15-year-old nephew is a student at Bartow Middle School where the incident took place, was less than impressed with Rice’s version of a joke. “I think she needs to learn what she did and what she did was wrong,” Toro said.
- Yes, they really fought over a jar of pickles. Toro’s nephew and another student were said to be working at the school store when Rice attempted to take the jar. The nephew and the other student tried to take the jar back, which is when Rice got her gnashers out. “She just bit them on the forearm and, of course, they released and she was able to get the pickles, but there’s other ways to do that,” she said.
- The students immediately went to school administrators over the issue. Administrators then called Toro, who went to Bartow police to press charges. That was in November, and an affidavit filed by officers revealed that Rice admitted to “licking” students at the time. “Even if it was and she did lick him, but I don’t believe she did, it’s still not acceptable to me,” Toro said.
- Rice was put on paid leave while county administrators performed a review. After that review, she was given a three-day suspension and then moved to Sleepy Hill Middle School. “Although she described her actions as playing around with students, we expect our employees to act professionally and serve as models of mature behavior. They must set a good example for students to follow, and anything less is unacceptable,” Polk County Public Schools spokesperson Jason Geary wrote in a statement.
- Bartow police and the state attorney have filed two misdemeanor battery charges against Rice. She’s due to be arraigned on March 31.