SALT LAKE CITY — A second-grade teacher at Washington Elementary School wanted to know which of her students had been writing a swear word all over the classroom.

So she asked some of her students to write the word out for her so she could compare handwriting samples.

Bridgette Barrowes volunteers in her second grade son's class, and she was aware that someone was writing the F-word all over the classroom. She said it carried on for two months.

The "dirtiest of all words" was scrawled on textbooks and walls, and the teacher just wanted to get to the bottom of it, Barrowes said. The teacher suspected one of the boys, so she kept all the male students inside from recess on March 20, and asked them to write what they thought the F-word was.

The teacher didn't spell it out herself, said Salt Lake City School District spokesman Jason Olsen.

"The teacher immediately realized that this is not the way she should have handled the situation and immediately told the principal and office what had happened," Olsen said.

The teacher's approach was called "inappropriate" by the principal, the district and a parent whose son took part in the "exercise." Her superiors said they have reprimanded her.

"I don't think she'll ever do this again, but I support her," Barrowes said. "She didn't mean to do any harm. As a mother, I would have done the same thing."

Olsen said the teacher herself called the parents to apologize, as did Principal Rebecca Pittam.

The teacher expressed great remorse, said Barrowes, adding that she was grateful that she came forward on her own to take ownership of the mistake.

"She's a great teacher; I'd like to see her do the job she's always done," she said. "She needs to pay attention to those children whom she calls her own."

Barrowes said the culprit has not been caught, but fortunately, the profane graffiti has stopped. School officials would not say whether the teacher had been taken out of the classroom.

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