Teacher accused of spraying animal chewing deterrent

JAMES ISLAND—A fourth-grade teacher at Nativity School resigned her position after it was reported that she had sprayed a chewing deterrent on a boy’s fingers.

The solution in question is called Bitter Yuck! and is supposed to stop animals from chewing furniture and other things. Ingredients listed in the non-toxic substance are 5 percent rosemary with inert ingredients of water and sodium bicarbonate.

According to published reports, the teacher was trying to stop the student from biting his fingernails.

Nick Cardinal said his teacher told the class at the beginning of the year that she would pull out the yuck spray if they chewed their fingers.

“It tasted horrible,” the youth told Channel 5 News. “It lasted all day. I remembered it had a dog and cat on it and she always said don’t make me get out the yuck spray.”

The incident happened in December 2010.

Peter Shahid, an attorney with the Diocese of Charleston, said the school did not learn about the spray until March 15. At that time, Principal Patti Dukes was meeting with Gene Cardinal, the boy’s father, on a separate matter. When he mentioned that his son’s teacher had sprayed a bitter liquid on the child’s fingers, Dukes was surprised.

She contacted the Catholic Schools Office and informed Sister Canice Adams, interim superintendent, who called the family to discuss the situation and apologize, Shahid said.

“What the teacher did is absolutely indefensible,” he said. “When it was brought to our attention, within days we addressed the situation.”

Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone also spoke about the incident, calling it unacceptable behavior for a teacher.

An official statement from the diocese notes that it “does not condone this kind of conduct, in particular when it affects a child at one of its schools.”

Diocesan and school officials met with the teacher and she submitted her resignation.

The Cardinal family has contacted an attorney.