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Elementary student punished, threatened by teacher who didn't want to be called 'ma'am

A North Carolina fifth grade student was punished by his teacher for calling her "ma'am." (Image source: KTRK-TV video screenshot)

The parents of a North Carolina fifth grader are upset after their son was punished and threatened by a teacher for referring to her as "ma'am," KTRK-TV reported.

The student, Tamarion, was forced to write lines during class for saying something most consider polite, responding "yes ma'am" to a female authority figure.

"He had a look of disappointment, shame," said Tamarion's father, McArthur Bryant, of his son's demeanor after school that day. "At the end of the day as a father, to feel kind of responsible for that...knowing that I have been raising him and doing the best that I can, it's not acceptable."

What happened?

In addition to having to fill a page front and back with the word "ma'am," the teacher allegedly told Tamarion that she would've thrown something at him if she had something to throw.

The teacher admitted to saying that, but claims she was joking and that she figured Tamarion understood that she wasn't serious.

The teacher sent Tamarion home with the punishment sheet to be signed by his parents.

How did the parents respond?

Tamarion's parents, Bryant and his mother Teretha Wilson, sent the punishment sheet back to the school -- but attached a second page, on which Tamarion wrote several dictionary definitions of "ma'am," sending the message that there was no disrespect involved.

After a meeting with the school principal and the teacher earlier this week, the parents requested Tamarion be moved to a different classroom, which the principal allowed. Still, Bryant worries about how that teacher might treat other kids.

"If it happened to my son, I'm pretty sure if not a week, a day, a month, a year, it will occur to somebody else's child," Bryant said.

The school didn't have much to say about the incident, only releasing a short statement: "This is a personnel matter which has been handled appropriately by the K-7 principal."

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