Georgia teacher fired for putting autistic student in trash can

In a Monday, June 22, 2015 photo, Mary Katherine Pursley demonstrates how she says she held a student over a trash can during a hearing before a tribunal at the school system headquarters in Atlanta. Pursley, a Georgia special education teacher who was accused of holding an autistic boy upside-down and lowering him head-first into a trash can while comparing him to Oscar the Grouch says she was trying to calm the boy, not hurt him. (Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP) MARIETTA DAILY OUT; GWINNETT DAILY POST OUT; LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; WXIA-TV OUT; WGCL-TV OUT

MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) — Education officials have voted to fire a Georgia special education teacher accused of putting a student with autism in a trash can.

Local media report the Cobb County School Board on Thursday voted to terminate 45-year-old Mary Katherine Pursley’s contract for the 2015-16 school year.

Pursley said at a hearing Monday at the school district office that she was trying to calm the child. She said he was screaming and upset at an after-school program. She said she compared his behavior to Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street and held him over a trash can to “shake out the grouchy.”

School system attorneys say Pursley “engaged in inappropriate physical contact” with the boy.

Pursley’s attorney Warren Fortson said her behavior wasn’t inappropriate and shouldn’t have resulted in termination.

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