Margaret Gieszinger is a Visalia, California, teacher arrested after she was caught on video forcibly cutting a student’s hair while singing the national anthem.
Gieszinger, a 52-year-old chemistry teacher at the University Preparatory High School, was booked Wednesday on suspicion of felony child endangerment. Her bail was set at $100,000, The Visalia Times Delta reported.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Video Shows Margaret Gieszinger Forcibly Cutting a Student’s Hair & Then Chasing Other Screaming Students Out of the Classroom
A video posted to Twitter shows Gieszinger tell her class “Okay, I want everybody to rise. Rise. This is how we do it.”
She is then seen belting out the “Star-Spangled Banner” while cutting the shocked boy’s hair.
When he goes to get up, she tells him, “You’re not done.”
She then walked over to a female student and appeared to grab her hair and try to cut it while others pupils yelled and ran out of the classroom.
“We think she’s going to try to be funny and be like ‘Oh did you really think I was going to cut his hair?’ But she did cut a hair off, and she started singing the Star Spangled Banner and she was singing it really loudly as she ceremoniously tossed a chunk of hair behind her,” a student who asked to remain anonymous told KFSN.
“I hope I never have to see her at the school again, because I know for a fact I can never see her as a respectable authority figure in my life,” the student added.
The College of the Sequoias police responded to a call from the school Wednesday. Police Chief Kevin Mizner said they received a call from the University of Preparatory High School about an incident involving a teacher and a “pair of scissors,” The Visalia Times Delta reported.
Gieszinger was arrested on suspicion of felony child endangerment. Her bail was set at $100,000.
2. She Has Previously Worked in the Food Safety Industry & Graduated From California State Polytechnic University-Pomona
According to her Linkedin profile, Gieszinger graduated from California State Polytechnic University-Pomona in 1992 with a degree in agricultural biology. She later received a teaching credential in secondary biology from Chapman University and a CLAD and CTEL certificate from. Azusa Pacific University.
Prior to her recent teaching job, Gieszinger was a compliance and food safety assistant at AgriCare in Strathmore, California. She also worked as a food safety manager for Central Valley Ag Exports and was an agricultural inspector for the Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer’s Office from 2010 to 2012. She additionally worked as a weights and measures inspector associate from 2006 to 2008 in the Los Angeles County Agricultural Commissioner’s office.
Gieszinger was a science teacher at Orosi High School from 2012 to 2013 and a substitute teacher in the Placentia Yorba Linda Unified School District from 1987 to 2010, according to her Linkedin profile. “Very sought after substitute teacher as reflected by several ongoing assignments to high school science AP courses, elementary AP classrooms as well as RSP and special day classes. Worked well with staff to provide a safe and nurturing learning experience,” she wrote about her time in the district.
Gieszinger is originally from Placentia, California, and she now lives in Visalia, according to her Facebook profile. She attended El Dorado High School in Placentia and has also lived in New Jersey. Her Facebook page includes numerous pro-Donald Trump posts.
On Linkedin, Gieszinger says she sings alto in the schola choir at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Visalia and volunteers as a side walker for children with disabilities at the Happy Trails Riding Academy.
3. Gieszinger Will Not Return to the Classroom, the School Says
Gieszinger, a science teacher, has also worked as a track and cross country coach, according to the school district’s website. The Tulare County Office of Education is investigating the incident and said that Gieszinger will not return to the classroom.
“The staff at University Preparatory High School and the administration at the Tulare County Office of Education are deeply concerned for the students who were subjected to the disturbing behavior in Margaret Gieszinger’s class yesterday morning,” said Jim Vidak, superintendent of Tulare County schools, in a statement reported by the Visalia Times Delta. “To support all students on the UPHS campus today, we have sent top counselors from our mental health services program. They will continue to be available to the students as long as necessary.”
Vidak added that a “highly-qualified substitute teacher” will take over until a replacement teacher is hired.
4. She Was Previously Suspended for 2 Weeks on 2 Different Ocassions
According to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, Gieszinger teacher credentials were suspended in 2007 and again in 2016. The cause of the suspensions is unclear.
Both suspensions lasted two weeks.
The Visalia Times Delta reported that Gieszinger was previously employed by the Lindsay Unified School District and Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District.
5. Parents Say They’re Shocked by the Teacher’s Behavior
Sara Rocha, a parent of a student who attends the school, told The Visalia Times Delta that the incident began after a test went missing earlier in the week and Gieszinger blamed the students. Rocha said that the teacher made her daughter’s friend cry in class.
“(Students) asked for help,” she said, “but were told they had to go back to class… the fact kids asked for help and didn’t get it makes me really sad.”
“We have to take it seriously when (students) come to us,” added Rocha, who also works as a teacher. “We absolutely need to listen to kids. This breaks my heart.”
“I know that on Monday she had another freak out because a test was missing or something. She accused the students of taking the test,” one of the students told KFSN.
Lilli Gates, one of Gieszinger’s students, said that the incident was out of character for the teacher.
“When everything was going on I was terrified, and I so badly wanted to blame her. I was scared she was going to come back,” Gates said. “What she did to my classmates and I is inexcusable. I am not trying to make excuses for her, I simply ask everyone to reconsider how they view her. She is a loving and kind lady. She is usually all smiles and laughs. This is not the Miss G. we know and love.”