FREEZING PUNISHMENT: 2nd Graders ‘Sent Outside’

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An elementary school in southern Iowa is investigating an incident that occurred during Thursday lunch time.

Several Centerville parents are upset because they say their children were sent outside without coats, as a form of punishment.

The superintendent says an adult watching second graders over the lunch hour sent them outside to do a lap around the playground because they kids were supposedly being too noisy.

The temperature around that time was about ten degrees, with the windchill below zero.

It's school policy to keep kids inside for recess if they temperatures are below ten degrees.

Centerville Superintendent Anthony Ryan says the district is looking into the incident.

“The Principal at this point is involved and we can assure parents the health and well-being of the kids is our number one priority and at no point do we want to jeopardize the health and safety of kids,” says Superintendent Ryan.

Ryan says he is addressing all phone calls and emails from concerned parents.

He wouldn't say what punishment the adult would face, if any, but did say after their investigation appropriate action will be taken.


  • Nathan

    I went to Centerville schools stuff like this never happened. The adults involved should be terminated or FORCED to stand out in the cold with below zero wind chills in shorts and tshirts for 30 minutes. my children will be attending centerville schools if this would of been my child a lawyer would of been involved which I would suggest To parents of these children should they do. This form of punishment is uncalled for.
    Thank for your time
    Infuriated Parent

    • Amanda Kay

      when i went to school there(which was over ten years ago) if i was bad, at lunch i would have to stand on the wall no matter what it was like out there. if those were my children though, i would be mad, it’s not right to force the children to do that. if they did it on their own accord would be another matter. i also lived in a home where staring at a wall for five to six hours was a normal thing. i now know it’s not a normal thing and i would hate for anyone else to feel. I see how this is a problem and the adult should have known better. I’m now an RN and going outside in those temperature would bring down their immune system, they are little kids. it’s not right.

    • Sue

      What an idiot. I’m sure the little delinquents had it coming. “I’d hire an attorney”………your exactly what is wrong with the United States, no personal responsibility.

    • Pat Cincotta

      It’s not so much about the dollars – it’s about the only recourse if the teacher is not disciplined by the school. A civil suit has to be filed for the case to be heard and settled. Not everyone is going after the money, they just want something done so the person doesn’t continue to harm children.

  • Amy Stephens

    My child was involved in this incident…this was a horrible decision that this lady made, but it’s getting blown way out of proportion. There are so, so many wonderful teachers and staff at Central….one bad decision shouldn’t have put them on the news like this. I can already hear the comments flying in, but it didn’t kill those kids to have them go out there and run….in my opinion, it’s what is wrong with some kids today because we treat them like they are so fragile.

  • Susie

    Talk about making a big fuss about nothing. Kids with cabin fever sent out to blow off steam after too many days of indoor recess. 15 seconds for fresh air damaged no one.

  • Rachel

    So if it’s no big deal then the next time we have wind chills below zero you can all strip down And run some will do ya some good. ..then the next week when your all sick maybe we can revisit this issue.

  • Josie

    I live in Alaska and schools don’t keep kids in until it is much colder. Funny thing is that most kids chose not to wear outdoor gear and show up in shorts and hoodies. This story is just silly!

  • Robin

    How about letting them run around the inside of the gym to run off some energy or go do some jumping jacks in the classroom?

  • Courtney O'Connor

    My daughter, a second grader at this school, explained to me that the children are not allowed to even whisper during “inside recess”. It’s a little ridiculous to expect young children to not speak to one another, even quietly, during recess time, whether recess is held outside or inside. However, I have every confidence that this situation will be handled accordingly, as both the superintendent and the principal of the school are very competent and concerned about the education, safely, and well being of Centerville students.

    • Susie

      If you read the article I believe it say it was lunch. Before my retirement I worked in the school setting. With smaller children more food is usually eaten if there is a quiet time at lunch. With a limited amount of time to be at the table some kids just need to concentrate on eating or the time to leave arrives and they have eaten nothing. A wise teacher I knew once said “If you believe only have about what you hear about school, I will believe only half of what I hear about home.” Kids usually don’t mean to not tell the truth, but they want to tell things to “please” adults, they leave out important details or tone of voice. Things get misconstrued.

  • Suzanne Alicia Adams

    Boo hoo hoo. This is Iowa, it gets cold. They’ve probably spent 60 seconds of discomfort before. They weren’t asked to do anything deadly or even dangerous.

    Maybe it was a bad call, but no one needs punished over this. Get over it people.

    • Courtney O'Connor

      Actually, my main concern has nothing to do with the time they spent outside, but the fact that there is basically no talking allowed during indoor recess. This is why the kids were sent outside to run a lap, because the noise level was too high. Kids, especially young kids, need time to talk and fool around. The adult responsible for them at the time of this incident should not have expected complete silence during what is supposed to be the children’s recess time.

    • blaine

      I like your thinking. When I was in school it had to be like -15 before they would call for indoor recess. I toughen the kids up. We don’t need any more weaklings.

  • Cheyenne

    There is seriously wrong with you people that think it’s okay for little kids at that age to be punished like this,there was no reason in it at all I think if you can’t handle the noise of kids you have no reason at all to be a teacher or in charge of kids,we need to get better teachers in our school systems,it’s problems like this that makes it to where kids hate school and don’t even want to go to school,kids should love going to school….

  • ashley

    OK for one this is not OK at all. I for one am an adult with child like fingers…literally my ring finger is a prize 3 1/2. With out any winter gear the children’s hands would be freezing and turning colors by them. I should know because it happens to me in warmer weather than that however long it took the children to run laps their fingers would have been in extreme pain. Something needs to be done

  • Tyler

    I think its hard for teachers these days with all these abuse n harassment rules. Kids are mean and bitter because of bad parenting this is my opinion but teachers went a little extreme in this case but one lap WITH. a coat would probly been better or 3 laps indoors… but I’ve seen alot of disrespectful kids to not always point the easy finger.

  • blaine

    Idk. It is Centerville. Shady town. I grew up in albia, and a lot of the peoplei knew from Centerville would always talk about how shady that town is.

  • Vicki

    I imagine that the person accused has been far more damaged by this than the children who were outside for a few seconds. Shame on you, WHO, and the others who have blown this way out of proportion.

  • Jon

    Likes like this was a contest to prove who can be more delinquent: the parents, or their bratty kids that complained to them about receiving a little discipline for being too loud and obnoxious. Looks the kids won out. If the parents thought they were going to prove anything by involving the media, it’s how little they know of a situation and how quick they are to accept the complaints of their kids over their own rational thought and point the finger and judge someone who has one of the toughest jobs in America. And WHOTV, if you think this isn’t sensationalism then you all better go back to journalism school. If you guys had to do stories on complaints from every over zealous parent in this state, then you wouldn’t have time to report anything else. I suppose no one even thought to get the other teachers side of the story before damaging his/her reputation. I’m sure if the parents were in that situation as the teacher that day, they would have reacted differently instead of imposing all this soap opera- infused drama. The only thing this proves is how far Centerville has stooped for the sake of a few disgruntled, attention deprived parents wishing use the supposed plight of their kids as a platform to publicly flaunt their own egos. You parents probably let your kids walk and trample all over you and have their way with any little tantrum they throw. Also, I’ve been outdoors this for as long as five/six minutes with exposures to sub-zero temps repeatedly without a jacket and haven’t had any major health issues result. This Iowa! We’re made for this kind of weather people! And it’s not like its Antarctica! Yeah, perhaps not the best plan for handling a school situation, but there are certainly much worse ideas with how to deal with it. Why can’t Centerville go back to being in the headlines for the good and intelligent things that happen?!?! This is certainly not the same town I grew up in. If this same incident occurred while I was in elementary when I was a kid, none of us would have even thought it was that big of a deal. In fact, we probably would have at least had the humility and dignity to admit that we deserved it! This would be the lamest story I ever heard of if it wasn’t for Hollywood.

    • ScottsMom

      I think you need to send your comment to the Iowegian to be printed. This says exactly what needs to be said.

  • William Denison

    I think we should award the staff of this fine school with a BRAND NEW SCHOOL!!!!! Thats right. We here in Iowa instead of jailing the people who abuse our kids in our schools let them keep their jobs and even will build them a new building to keep up the good work.

  • Jackie

    For heavens to Betsy!!! None of the kids died, none of the kids are in the hospital…besides if they are running laps their bodies would keep warm by burning energy. Let’s all move on!! Let the administration handle this! Oh and does anyone realize by the time those kids are 12 or 13 they won’t be wearing coats outside unless there is snow up to their butts and they also won’t be wearing snow boots, gloves, or hats either. Move on!!

  • pissed off citizen

    For all you people to think its ok for what this teacher had done are dumbasses. Yes we are iowans and cold comes with the territory but children to have to run outside in the cold with no coat on. My daughter wont ever even leave the house without a coat in 50 or lower temp. There is a gym in that school if they needed to run for recess. This person honestly deserves a child endangerment charge per child outside during this so called punishment

  • Daniel O'Connor

    Yes, the story is probably a little bit of sensationalism. Was it a lack of better judgment on then part of the adult who determined this was punishment? Certainly. Was it harmful to the students? Not at all. My daughter was involved, and she says it was more than one lap. They were asked to run around the blacktop and she states that she had gone around “about three times” before they were brought back in. Until the principal approached me about it directly to ask if I had concerns and let me know she was available for questions after the news airs, I hadn’t heard anything (meaning my daughter didn’t think it was such a big deal and had no reason to come home and blab about it).
    For those commenting who are unfamiliar with the school, it is an aging school without a cafeteria (it’s nearly 100 years old). There are folding lunch tables set out in the gym and hot lunches are provided by the newer elementary school a mile down the road. I eat lunch with my daughter often and have expressed my concern with the lunch “period.” The students are provided approximately 20 minutes to eat before being shuffled outside (finished or not) so that the crews can get all the tables wiped and stored away, and all the food equipment and trays can be loaded and trucked back to the school that actually has a kitchen. Even during this 20 minute meal, there is so much concern over noise and talking. This school provides kinder-prep through 2nd grade, so they service students 4-8 years of age. It is inappropriate, in my mind, to stifle socialization so much in that age group. For the most part, they are all great students who pay attention in class, and when they have an opportunity to sit next to their friends and have a small break, they are constantly reminded that if they can’t whisper, they will have to be completely silent. So the bulk of talking happens during the first ten minutes, and then they’re consistently “put on yellow” and down to a whisper or “put on red” which means no talking. They (the students) are to save their conversations for the 20 minutes of lunch recess outside – apparently without much consideration for days of required inside recess.
    Requesting an entire second grade population to remain silent for twenty minutes of recess, after twenty minutes of a silent lunch is absurd – this isn’t a prison population. Recess is structured into schools because it is beneficial to both the teachers and the students. If we take away the benefit of recess by forcing silence and prohibiting interaction, there’s no point in providing a recess at all – whether at lunch or at any other time of day.
    Now, am I dense enough to think that these kids don’t get some talking done? No. I am in that school frequently. I know many of the other students by name & we high-five when passing in the hallways. These kids do get to talk, it’s simply the effort involved in trying to keep them so quiet during these particular times that bothers me.

  • Katherine Thomas (@CoolBeanzIA)

    What I find interesting is that people would be hiring a lawyer if their employer imposed a physical punishment like this but for children it is OK because they shouldn’t be treated with the same respect. That being said, I don’t think a lynch mob needs to be dispatched. A poor decision but no one was in immediate danger. As another poster said, there are other problems in the school that need attention.

  • April

    I for one would take my child out of that school system! No sense in that at all. If they can’t handle the children then don’t teach. This is very uncalled for! No excuses!

  • E

    People who spout off when they don’t know all the facts sound foolish. It seems to me these parents are just manufacturing drama so they have something they perceive as being interesting to talk about on Facebook. Have a little class and handle this situation with the appropriate individuals, only those who need to be involved, without making it a public issue. This is NOT news, and the fact that WHO is reporting it as such is pathetic.

    It should be noted that I am a parent of a school age child, and obviously the safety of my children is of the utmost importance to me. That said, any intelligent adult ought to recognize the intent of this person was to let the children run off some excess energy from being copped up inside, not to harm them. I’m not saying it was a good decision, but from what I know of this person she is not the monster these ridiculous parents are making her out to be, and these attacks on her and the Centerville schools are unwarranted.

  • Rebecca Hergert

    Sooner or later. Our Iowa Teachers are going to get caught!!
    I don’t care if we have to go back 35-40 yrs or in their college days.
    They will have to face the consquences on JUDGEMENT DAY.

  • John Dean Heidenreich

    Sounds like child abuse to me. If a parent had done this to their children at home and a neighbor saw it, they would have called the police and the parents would be investigated by the police and the state child protective people but a school does it and the principle makes light of it.

  • Nick

    I would like to think we’re better than trying to ruin a teachers life. Next time, have the kids get coats. Obviously this won’t happen again. Next story please

  • Daniel O'Connor

    For those who don’t have it clear: At this school, lunch is served in the gym. There is no kitchen or cafeteria. The students were in the gym. Also, because of the temperature, the students left all coats in their lockers – there was no reason to drag a coat downstairs to the gym for lunch when there was no plan to be outside. Sending the students to collect their coats (when there are second grade classes on both first and second floors of the building) is problematic in that by the time all the coats were collected and students lined up for their “punishment” the remainder of lunch recess would be over and time for students to return to their classes – it takes more than just a few minutes to get 60-70 kids shuffled to the appropriate place to get their coats and then back.
    For those who think they need an attorney, what in the world is the injury? Nobody was harmed, there is no reason to involve an attorney or the courts.

  • Marianne

    I hope those that are rushing to judgment volunteer to spend time actually helping in an elementary school so they know first hand the challenges involved. Very few of the comments above indicate they are familiar with the situation from having been in that building at any time. Who says the person was a teacher and not a person hired to watch the lunchroom? I taught in a very old building with what sounds like this school, lack of an adequate lunch room and time to eat. When the weather was too cold to play outside but “bearable” EVERYONE put on warm clothes, including all the teachers and the woman principal, and we ALL ran together three times around the building and had fun doing it. .

  • MotherOF3yunguns

    I am a mother of children in 1st 2nd and 3rd. Grade…its IMPOSSIBLE. To keep a room full of this age group quiet for a length of time unless we make a game of it.. For instance let’s say there are 20 tables set up for eating..label tables with a color….usually two tables per class will hold them…assign each class a color and that is their table for a month…write the class colors on a postrerboard..since they use red and yellow for the level of noise continue To use those colors for stars…If a table is exceptionally loud after “quiet down please” star…for the tables with fewest stars or only yellow stars..give them a reward…like a pizza party in their class room…make things entertaining for them, give them some incentive for quieter behaviour..

  • melody

    If my kids would been treated like that there would b he’ll to pay no child deserves that and any of u adults that think it’s OK for the teacher to do that then u r freaking crazy and need help that no one can ever give u and I would have an attorney involved really freaking quick some adults out here are just ridiculous and need to grow up and think about their kids safety. That teacher deserves to b fired and I’d fight to make sure she was

  • Chris

    “It takes only minutes for exposed skin to become frostbitten if the temperature falls below 20 degrees Fahrenheit and the wind is blowing at 20 miles per hour or more,” Dr. Taizoon Baxamusa, spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, said in a news release issued by the academy. “Your hands, fingers, feet, toes and ears are especially susceptible, so you need to take special care protecting them.”

    Frostbite can cause permanent damage, causing long-term chronic pain and sensitivity to cold or numbness. In extreme cases, amputation may be necessary.

  • learn to read.

    Several Centerville parents are upset because they say their children were sent outside without coats….

    this is the part that bugs me. not that they was sent out side.. big whoop.. but WITH OUT COATS?!

    do you people even read this article? you’re all blowing up over them sending the kids outside.. but the REAL reason is they had NO COATS ON!
    learn to read people…
    they have a right to be pissed off.

  • rose

    no coats would they send their own children out in the cold with no coat then if chid is sick call social sevices because that chid missed to much school get real lets treat these students as if they are our own or find another job

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