North Miami teacher’s alleged harsh punishment sends teen to hospital

NORTH MIAMI, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida high school teacher is in hot water after allegedly assigning one student an unusual punishment.

Eighteen-year-old Richard Joseph, a recent graduate at North Miami Senior High, said he was told to do pushups as a punishment for being tardy to class in April.

Joseph said the teacher made him do 50 pushups up and down a flight of stairs.

“When he told me to do it, at first it was kind of bizarre to me, I’d think like, why would I do that as a punishment for coming late?” he said, “So I said, ‘OK, I’ll do it, no problem, no pressure, I’ll just go ahead and do it.'”

He said he was confused at first after being provided vague instructions.

“I said, ‘Do I just do it and then go?’ and he says, ‘No, you do one, go up the step, do one, go up the step and then coming back down.’ Boy, was I tired,” he said.

According to Joseph, when he woke up the next morning, he couldn’t move his arms and had to be taken to the hospital by his mother.

“My arms were huge, they were swollen, very dark, full of bruises,” he said. “I couldn’t move, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t do nothing for myself.”

Doctors at the hospital diagnosed the teen with rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of muscle tissue that releases a damaging protein into the blood.

The injury could’ve been life-threatening, leading to acute kidney failure.

“If it wasn’t for that day, if I didn’t go to the hospital that moment, I would not be sitting here today talking to you guys,” said Joseph.

Joseph missed two months of school as a result and hired an attorney to get answers.

“It’s a very big deal. What if he would’ve died?” said attorney David Dreszer. “Thank God we got lucky, and he’s with us, but he’s still treating.”

Joseph said he often thinks about why he didn’t just walk out after being told to do the pushups.

His attorney said there’s video of what took place.

“We have reason to believe that Richard is not the only person who was punished in this way,” said Dreszer.

Roselyn Joseph, the teen’s mother, said she’s thankful for the lifesaving response time.

“This is very serious, very serious, if I didn’t reach him in time, I might not have Richard today,” she said.

Dreszer wants answers from the school district who, he said, preaches about keeping the kids safe all the time.

Miami-Dade Public Schools’ Office of Communications released a statement regarding the alleged incident:

“Miami-Dade County Public Schools is reviewing the case thoroughly and expeditiously. The allegations, if substantiated, demonstrate poor judgment on the employee’s part, and the district will take swift and appropriate disciplinary action.”

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