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Caught on video: NC substitute teacher fired after threatening student

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Bertie County Schools administrators have fired a substitute teacher caught on video cursing and threatening to hit a female student.

Another student in the class captured the whole thing on his Smartphone.

The video shows a chorus class at Bertie County High School. Students are talking loudly and a substitute teacher, later confirmed with school officials as Demetria Morris, gets up from her desk.

It appears as though Morris is scolding senior Shaquaya Hunter for playing the piano and singing at the start of class. Shaquaya talks back, and then Morris gets in her face, starts to yell and presses her body up against the student.

"She started bumping me with her chest and I was like, ‘Back up, move out my way,'" Shaquaya said Monday. "I thought she was going to hit me."

The video shows Morris using profanity repeatedly as she appears to threaten Shaquaya. At one point, you hear Shaquaya say, "Then hit me."

That's when Morris backed down and returns to her desk.

"When I see the video, I think, what can this child have done to you to make you feel so threatened to want to beat her down?" said Shaquaya's mother, Karleen Watson. "I don't see anything that my child had done that can force this woman to be that upset with her."

Watson contacted the principal and the Bertie County Board of Education the next day.

After an internal investigation, school administrators fired Morris. They say every substitute teacher must complete teacher training, submit to a background check and get board approval before stepping foot into a classroom. They say this is Morris' first year subbing and they've never had an issue before this.

But Watson wasn't satisfied and took it a step further.

"I pressed charges because I felt like she had no business doing that to my child as an adult, nevermind a substitute teacher," Watson said.

Court calendars show Morris now faces two misdemeanor charges for assault and battery, and communicating threats. She is due in court on Nov. 21. 

9 On Your Side went to Morris' home to get her side of the story. A woman came outside, but refused to answer our questions about Morris and would not let us leave a name or number for her to call us back. 

As for Watson, she says she's angry and wants to make sure this doesn't happen again. Her message to Morris: "I would just say put herself in my situation and if this was her child, how would she feel?" Watson said. 
Bertie County Schools made the following comment about the incident:

"The substitute teacher in question is no longer on the Board approved Substitute Teacher list. Every substitute teacher is required to complete the Effective Teacher Training Course taught by the local community college. Once the course is completed, substitutes must complete an employment application, a background check and complete (4) hours of classroom observation. When all the requirements have been met, the name is placed on the Superintendent's Personnel Report for Board approval. The local requirements include an annual orientation for all substitutes as well as any new employee where key Board Policies are reviewed. Each substitute receives a handbook that includes helpful tips on classroom management.

"The district uses AESOP (Substitute Placement & Absence Management) program for teachers to evaluate substitute teachers. Substitute teachers who rate low are contacted by Human Resources and automatically removed from the district's list.

"Substitute teachers know the series of disciplinary escalations that are available to them short of losing their temper. The substitute in question will not be allowed to substitute teach in the district."

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