Jacksonville kindergarten teacher suspended for mistreating children

Rufus E. Payne Elementary School teacher had other, previous complaints

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Rufus E. Payne Elementary School kindergarten teacher was suspended after a Duval County Public Schools report found he grabbed one student by the arm and pushed another to the ground.

At a meeting Tuesday evening, the Duval County School Board unanimously approved its consent agenda, which included Michael Slowik having a letter of reprimand put in his personnel file and being suspended without pay for 10 days.

According to the disciplinary report, he grabbed a student by the arm in September 2017 and attempted to force him to get on the bus. Two months later, he pushed a different child down to the ground while trying to force her to leave his room, investigators found.

Another teacher reported hearing Slowik tell his students: “You better stop or I am going to smack you.”

News4Jax learned that Slowik has been disciplined three times before:

  • In 2002, for pulling on a student’s ponytail. 
  • In February 2017, for yelling at the principal, students and calling a parent stupid. 
  • In June 2017, for pushing a child into a chair, and when the student tried to get up, telling him his “daddy needs to beat his (expletive) every day.”

Parents at the school of just over 300 students said they were shocked to hear what happened. Each who spoke to News4Jax said Rufus Payne is a good school and their children have good teachers.

"It’s surprising. It’s really surprising that someone would do that to a child, especially someone that’s a teacher," said Justina Hampton, mother of two.

James McGriff said his two children love their teachers.

"I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what’s going on, but as far as my kids are concerned and the school, they’re great with me and my kids," McGriff said.

Those parents are confident the school and district will properly punish Slowik and do what they can to prevent something like this from happening again.