8th-grader refuses to take off shirt in front of classmates for scoliosis check, mom says

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A middle school student is accusing a teacher of making him feel uncomfortable by asking him to take his shirt off in front of his classmates.

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The student said the teacher got upset when he refused, but the district said the teacher was doing state-mandated scoliosis screening that he has been trained to do.

Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes was at Stone Mountain Middle School Friday, where she spoke with the child’s parent.

The student who refused to remove his shirt in front of other male students has already been diagnosed with scoliosis and wasn’t comfortable showing everyone his curved spine.

The mother, who is not being identified, believes the screenings are necessary, but they need to be done privately.

“My son should’ve had a right to be protected and not humiliated,” she said.

Her son said a teacher put him and a group of boys in one room and said they all were going to get screened for scoliosis.

“So, apparently, he had all the boys take their shirts off, stand on the black line, turn around, face the wall, bend over and do the scoliosis test, but my son refused to,” she said.


She said the teacher threatened disciplinary action if he didn’t take off his short, so he recorded a few seconds of what was going on.

In the clip, the teacher tells him to write on a piece of paper that he refused to be screened.

According to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, scoliosis is a curve of the spine that affects 3% of children, and the most crucial time to check is starting at age nine, all the way up to age 16.

A spokesperson for the district said certain teachers are qualified to do these screenings and said in a statement,

“I reminded our staff that students have the right to decline participation in these health screenings and there will be no consequences whatsoever,” the spokesperson said.

The mother Fernandes talked to said her son’s emotional health is just as important.

“I want them to get the proper training they need so they will understand that the privacy of that child is very important, and I don’t want my child body-shamed,” she said.

The mom said she always knew about the screenings and welcomed them, but they need to be one-on-one so the privacy of all students is protected.

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