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| 1 minute read

Florida Teacher of the Year Charged with Abuse

A teacher in Jacksonville, Florida had just been named "Teacher of the Year," and some students complained that she didn't deserve it. The teacher sought out one particularly strident student critic and, after a meeting between the two, the student claimed that the teacher struck her in the face. Now the teacher is facing felony child abuse charges.

I don't know what actually happened, but I do know that the teacher made a classic mistake in this situation. Staff in youth serving organizations should avoid ever being alone with minors. This rule is particularly important if the discussion might become heated. You need a third person to be both a witness and a mediator. In this situation, the teacher actually sent a third person out of the room. That person was a student, but still could have been a witness to what actually happened. And here, to no one's surprise, the student didn't actually leave the area, but stayed near the door and reported to the police that he heard shouting from inside.

All in all, the teacher may or may not be guilty of the charged child abuse offenses. But there is no doubt that she put herself in a compromising situation that she will find very difficult to defend.

School surveillance video showed Lee “walking at an aggressive pace” to her classroom with the student following prior to the incident. A boy at the door to Lee’s class was told to leave, and Lee and the girl went inside and closed the doors. . . . A few minutes later, the student was seen leaving the classroom holding her face and walking with a “low demeanor” to a guidance counselor’s office, where she reported the incident.


youth services law, child abuse, ausburn_deborah, insights