Adult pulls sweater, teeth from 7-year-old student's mouth

PHILADELPHIA - February 19, 2014

7-year-old Harmani Osbey is missing her three front teeth.

The baby teeth would have fallen out own their own eventually, but by most accounts, they were yanked out by and adult, forcefully, Tuesday in her classroom at Solomon Solis Cohen School in Northeast Philadelphia.

"I understand Harmani is difficult some days, but she did not deserve that at all," said Harmani's mother Tomeka Speller.

Tomeka Speller explained that her 2nd grader gets in-school counseling for emotional problems from a therapist hired from an outside agency by the school district.

Tuesday morning, that therapist and four other adults were in the classroom.

Harmani was chewing on this sweater vest. The therapist told her to take it out of her mouth, and when she didn't, Harmani said she pulled it out.

"She come like this and pulled it real hard," said Harmani Osbey.

"Come behind her and yanked her vest out of her mouth and her teeth flew out; three of her teeth," said Speller.

"I was scared," said Harmani.

Other adults in the room including the teacher gave the same account in written statements.

They wrote: "The child was chewing on the vest when the therapist yanked it from her mouth pulling out the teeth and afterward the girl was bleeding. The school nurse called her mother."

"I was just angry. I was hurt. I was just so hurt that someone could do that to a child; not just any child, my child," said Speller.

"We were shocked that this occurred," said Fernando Gallard.

District spokesperson Fernando Gallard said that an investigation is underway, a police report has been filed and DHS notified.

"It is a contracted worker, and we are working with that contractor to make sure the individual does not return to any of our schools," said Gallard.

Tomeka Speller says she will press police to file criminal charges and she wants her daughter moved to a different school.

She also wants the woman who was hired to counsel her daughter to get counseling herself.

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