Suspended Southeast Polk Substitute Teacher Lois Johnson Speaks Out

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Ask any teacher and they'll likely agree every day is different.

But substitute teacher Lois Johnson says she always begins class the same way.

“You can call me Coach, Mrs. J, Mrs. Johnson or LoJo, the last thing you can call me is Grandma," Lois Johnson said.

Johnson has been teaching for the Southeast Polk School District for more than 40 years. Back in April, she was suspended after a parent claimed she violated district policy by pulling a disruptive student's arm to guide him back to his seat.

“I love the kids and the kids love me,” Johnson said. She remembers the situation differently.

“I asked repeatedly, I said you need to sit down he did not sit down. I do not like to send kids to the office. I tried to help him in this situation,” Johnson said. “Instead of throwing him out of the class I just reached up and put my hands on his shoulders and guided him down into his seat, I did not throw him in his seat."

District policy allows faculty to use reasonable and necessary force, not intended to cause pain in order to maintain control.

“A disruptive student just terrorizes the classroom, you spend more time with them," Johnson said.

Johnson and her attorney wish the district spent more time investigating.

“The district is saying that subs do not get due process,” Johnson said,

Johnson may not have the support of the district, but the community backs her up.

“All these compliments, all the kindness, it was great,” Johnson said.

More than 10,000 people signed a petition to reinstate Johnson, but the district isn’t listening.

“I miss my students; they are my life."

Johnson says the district could reinstate her but that's not guaranteed.

We reached out and the district had no comment, citing privacy laws.

In the meantime, Johnson’s attorney says the district isn't giving her the same due process outlined in the district's policy and that could be the basis for future legal action.

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