Dawn Henderson’s daughter Kaitlin was crying hysterically when she came home from Hardy Middle School one day in early October 2003. The D.C. sixth grader had a learning disability. She had not understood her social studies homework and was among six students who had not completed it.
Henderson said she knew the teacher to be a young woman new to the profession. During visits to Hardy, Henderson said she heard the teacher yell at some students about failing to do homework.
Kaitlin told her mother that day the teacher had tried something new: She made the six students stand in front of the class and hold all of their textbooks in their outstretched arms for about 15 minutes, until their muscles ached. Kaitlin did not have many books, but they were heavy for an 11-year-old.