California Teacher Arrested After Forcibly Cutting Student’s Hair While Disrespecting National Anthem

December 6, 2018 Updated: December 7, 2018

A California teacher who reportedly cut a student’s hair while incorrectly singing the words to the U.S. national anthem has been arrested.

Margaret Gieszinger, 52, was arrested after police got word of a teacher endangering students with scissors at University Preparatory High School in Visalia, California, according to the Visalia Times-Dispatch in a Dec. 5 report.

An alleged video of the incident shows her calling a student over to a chair. The student then sits down and she lops off a piece of his hair while screaming the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Later, the video shows the teacher pointing the scissors at another student before the class runs out of the room, screaming. The teacher is singing all the while.

Visalia teacher belts Star Spangled Banner while cutting student's hair in class

Watch as frightened high schoolers run out of Margaret Gieszinger's chemistry class after she starts chasing after kids to cut their hair. This happened Wednesday morning at University Preparatory High School in Visalia. Students tell me this wasn't the first time Gieszinger had an apparent breakdown. More at 11 on ABC30 Action News

تم النشر بواسطة ‏‎Christina Fan ABC30‎‏ في الأربعاء، ٥ ديسمبر ٢٠١٨

“Don’t you touch me!” said another student in another video, Fox News reported.

Gieszinger now faces charges of felony child endangerment and her bail was set at $100,000, the Times-Dispatch reported.

Sequoias District Police Chief Kevin Mizner told YourCentralValley that she followed a student out with the scissors. Eventually, other staff members got her to put the scissors down. She stopped teaching for the day and went home.

Police talked to students and saw cell phone footage of the incident. They collected enough evidence to arrest her.

ABC30 reported that she came into class and told students it was “hair cut day.”

“We think she’s going to try to be funny and be like ‘Oh did you really think I was going to cut his hair?’ But she did cut a hair off, and she started singing the Star Spangled Banner and she was singing it really loudly as she ceremoniously tossed a chunk of hair behind her,” said an anonymous student in the report.

The student added: “I hope I never have to see her at the school again because I know for a fact I can never see her as a respectable authority figure in my life.”

“All students are safe,” Principal Eric Thiessen told the paper on Dec. 5.

One of her students, Lilli Gates, recalled the bizarre scene and said it’s out of character for the teacher.

high school teacher flips out on video
Gieszinger now faces charges of felony child endangerment, and her bail was set at $100,000, the Times-Dispatch reported. (Google Street View)

“When everything was going on I was terrified, and I so badly wanted to blame her. I was scared she was going to come back,” Gates said.

She added: “What she did to my classmates and I is inexcusable. I am not trying to make excuses for her, I simply ask everyone to reconsider how they view her. She is a loving and kind lady. She is usually all smiles and laughs. This is not the Miss G. we know and love.”

Parent Speaks Out

Another parent of a student, Sara Rocha, said on Dec. 3, in another incident, Gieszinger apparently made her daughter’s friend cry during class. It happened after a test went missing, and she blamed the students.

“(Students) asked for help,” she said. “But were told they had to go back to class.”

Rocha, who is also a teacher, said she’s is disappointed in the school’s lack of intervention.

“We have to take it seriously when (students) come to us,” she said. “We absolutely need to listen to kids. This breaks my heart.”

Rocha added that the school is a “great school” and teachers make a strong effort. “I’ve always felt safe at UPHS,” she said. “But the fact kids asked for help and didn’t get it makes me really sad.”

Gieszinger’s teaching credential was suspended twice: once in 2006 and another time in 2017, according to the Times-Dispatch.

It’s not clear why her credentials were suspended and each one lasted 14 days.

A school official told the Times-Dispatch that Gieszinger will not return to her classroom while that a “highly-qualified substitute teacher” will take over.

School administrators will work closely with the new teacher until a replacement teacher is hired, the official.

Some 225 students are enrolled in the high school, which opened in 2009.

School Responds

Tulare County Office of Education, which oversees the high school, is now investigating the scissors incident. It issued a lengthy statement to ABC30:

“The staff at University Preparatory High School and the administration at the Tulare County Office of Education are deeply concerned for the students who were subjected to the disturbing behavior in Margaret Gieszinger’s class yesterday morning. To support all students on the UPHS campus today, we have sent top counselors from our mental health services program. They will continue to be available to the students as long as necessary.

We take very seriously the safety of the students in classrooms and on the COS campus. We move decisively when questions of inappropriate and unprofessional conduct are brought to the attention of UPHS administration. In this instance, we promptly removed Ms. Gieszinger from her classroom and worked closely with the COS Police Department. We are reviewing all available information and will take the most severe employment action appropriate. Ms. Gieszinger will not return to her UPHS classroom.

A highly-qualified substitute teacher has been placed in the classroom for the remainder of the semester. UPHS administration will work closely with this teacher until a replacement teacher is hired.

At this time, we cannot discuss further the details of this matter out of respect for due process, student privacy rights, employee privacy rights, and law enforcement’s ongoing investigation. We appreciate the prompt actions of the COS Police Department, and appreciate the patience and understanding of the community as we continue to handle this unfortunate incident.”