A special needs teacher is facing charges after she was accused of hitting and shoving a 4-year-old student with autism, Florida police said.
Police were called Sept. 7 to Indian River Elementary School after staff said they witnessed one of the teachers slapping and shoving a student, according to an arrest report from the Edgewater Police Department obtained by McClatchy News. The woman was a teacher for “exceptional student education,” which is designed for students who may have a disability, according to the report.
Officers were told the teacher hit a 4-year-old boy with autism on the arm when he didn’t do what he was told, according to the report. She also “forcefully” pushed him against the wall in a time-out when he tried to run away, police said in the report.
Later, the boy tried to get up from a group session, a witness told officers, and the teacher “snatched” him on his upper arm and pushed him into a bookcase in the classroom, police said in the report.
The other staff members told officers they “could not believe what they observed” and said the teacher was also aggressive with other autistic and non-verbal students, according to the report.
They told officers the teacher hit their hands and pulled them “very rough” in whatever direction she wanted them to go, the report said.
The staff immediately alerted school administration, according to the report.
“The teacher has been placed on leave pending an investigation,” a spokesperson for the Volusia County Schools told McClatchy News in an email. “Volusia County Schools has followed all protocols in immediately responding to this incident, and we are fully cooperating with law enforcement as they investigate this matter. VCS takes any behavior that jeopardizes the safety of our students and trust of our parents very seriously.”
Police said the child’s father and the Department of Children and Families were made aware of the teacher’s actions.
The teacher was charged with felony child abuse without great bodily harm and misdemeanor battery the same day, according to the report.
“We will continue to strive to foster a safe and respectful learning environment for all students. Any such behavior that does not align with these standards will not be tolerated,” the district spokesperson said.
Edgewater is about 55 miles northeast of Orlando.