COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A middle school teacher in South Carolina has been accused of dragging a student under a table during class, telling the boy "this is what the Nazis do to Jews," police said Monday.
The 12-year-old student said he got up to sharpen a pencil at Bluffton Middle School on Wednesday when Patricia Mulholland grabbed him by his collar and said, "come here, Jew," police said. The teacher then dragged him 10 feet under a table and made the comment about Nazis, according to police.
The seventh-grade teacher claims she was trying to teach the students a lesson about the Holocaust. The social studies teacher had a lesson on the Holocaust the day before.
"What was a demonstrative attempt to teach about World War II and the Holocaust has been taken to mean an anti-Semitic rant and it was nothing like that," said her attorney, Robert Ferguson.
Mulholland was arrested and faces charges of assault and battery and public disorderly conduct, Bluffton Police spokesman Lt. Joe Babkiewicz said.
Ferguson said Mulholland is a well-regarded teacher and hasn't had any problems during her 23-year career with Beaufort County schools.
"This is such a sensitive topic. But what do you determine is instructive teaching? Where is that line?" Ferguson said.
School district officials said Mulholland was placed on administrative leave Thursday. The district is sharing any information it has with police and will conduct its own investigation once the criminal probe is finished.
Police would not identify the student and refused to say whether he was Jewish.
Bluffton is located along the coast in the southeastern part of the state.