Arizona Elementary Teacher Takes Girls Shirt Off as Punishment

A teacher at an Arizona elementary schools is under arrest after taking the shirt off of a 6 year old female student and forcing her to sit half naked for several minutes as a “punishment” for disobedience.

54 year old Thomas Washburn was a teacher at Adams Elementary School in Mesa, Arizona until the recent incident occurred. Police say that Washburn became upset at something that was going on in the class and began yelling at the group of about two dozen students. His outburst apparently frightened the young girl, whose mother says is “developmentally delayed”, and so she hid her face in her t-shirt.

The young girl’s decision to hide her face from the anger of the adult made things even worse. (The girl bears no blame of course– likely hiding her face simply shamed the teacher, exacerbating his anger.)  He demanded that she pull her face from her shirt, but the frightened girl did not budge, so the teacher did the unthinkable. He strode over and forcibly removed the her shirt from her body, leaving her half naked with a full class of witnesses for the next ten minutes.

Understandably distraught, the girl broke down in tears.

Eventually (again, after about ten minutes) Washburn returned the shirt to the little girl.


At the end of the day when her mom arrived to pick her up, Washburn explained to her what had happened. The irate mother contacted the school administration, who in turn contacted the local police. wasburn2Washburn was arrested at the school and charged with one count of child abuse and one count of indecent exposure – which has since been upped to 24 counts of indecent exposure, one for every child in the class.

The Mesa Public School System issued the following statement about the situation.

“Thomas Washburn has been placed on paid administrative leave and is assigned to home. The district will use the police findings as the basis for any future employment action against Washburn.

“Our first priority is the safety and security of our students. Mesa Police Department is leading the investigation, and we are working cooperatively with them. Please contact Mesa PD for information regarding the incident and investigation.

“Washburn has been employed by Mesa Public Schools since August 2006. His only assignment has been a teacher at Adams Elementary.”

Adults must know better. We must be able to interact with children in a proportional and understanding manner. Whatever happens next to Mr. Washburn, this is a situation that never should have happened, and every negative repercussion is his own fault.


The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

About the author

Onan Coca

Onan is the Editor-in-Chief at Romulus Marketing and Bravera Holdings. He's also the managing editor at,, and the managing partner at You can read more of his writing at Eagle Rising.
Onan is a graduate of Liberty University (2003) and earned his M.Ed. at Western Governors University in 2012. Onan lives in Atlanta with his wife and their five wonderful children.

Join the conversation!

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse.

Don't Miss Out!!

Get your daily dose of Eagle Rising by entering your email address below.

Our Privacy Policy has been updated to support the latest regulations.Click to learn more.×
Don't miss a thing. Sign up for our email newsletter to become an insider.

Send this to a friend