On February 21, a teacher at an elementary school in Kansas first yanked a five-year-old girl out of a bookshelf, waited until a staff member turned away, then kicked the little girl in the back. After the school was notified of the incident, the teacher was immediately placed on leave; she was fired from the school on March 25. She now may be facing legal action, reports The New York Daily News. After the teacher was placed on leave, spokesman David Smith told the Kansas City Star, “There was no question that we were going to do everything we could immediately to terminate that teacher and to look after that child. No child should have to experience that. It’s a horrible situation. We feel terrible about it and that person no longer works for us.”
The teacher, Crystal Smith, was in her first year of teaching. As KCTV 5 reported, when the child’s mother picked her up from Bluejacket Flint Elementary school in Shawnee, Kansas, on April 21, her daughter told her, “I don’t like my teacher. She’s really mean. She hit me on my arm.” Seeing a red mark on her arm, the mother unsuccessfully attempted to contact the school principal, then returned to the school where she discovered her daughter had informed another teacher of the incident but nothing eventuated from that.
A recording the mother made of herself with her daughter’s teachers and school district staff shows the daughter’s IEP teacher admitting, “[The 5-year-old] did mention to me, ‘My teacher, like hit me’. I asked her what happened and she said she touched her on her arm but I wasn’t there so I’m not sure what happened.” Smith is heard saying:
So, I’m not surprised she has some marks on her. She was crawling in the bookshelf. She has a red spot on her arm. And I’m not surprised because she shoved herself into that bookshelf…I mean, she kicked me a couple of times. She was reaching over into the bookshelf pulling books out and there were those metal, metal book divider things … I said don’t we can’t do that. So I put myself kind of standing around her so that if she does throw something she wouldn’t break something …
The mother smelled a rat, and discovered video existed of the incident. Waiting for a week for the school to show it to her, the mother was shocked when she viewed it, recalled to KCTV, “When I saw the video it was heartbreaking, because everything she said, she sat at the same table as me and just lied about everything … she lied to me. She lied to everyone else. She was almost really convincing.”
KCTV stated, “The video shows the little girl refusing to get in line with the rest of her class. She crawls up into a bookshelf while the rest of her class leaves the library. That’s when her teacher finds her in the bookshelf, grabs her by the arm, drags her out on the ground, and when no one is looking, kicks her in the back.”
The mother commented, “I can’t really even put it into words. I hurt for my child, and I was just angry that someone could do that … I said, ‘OK, had my child not said anything to me, you were just going to go behind closed doors and speak to everyone else, and if something came up then you’d let me know?’ But had she not said anything to me it all. I may not have ever known.”
The Shawnee Mission School District issued a statement:
The Shawnee Mission School District was deeply distressed by the actions shown in the video. We take our responsibility to keep our children safe extremely seriously, and as parents and educators, we are heartbroken whenever a child is not treated with love and respect. As soon as we discovered what happened, we acted to remove the teacher from contact with students, and proceeded immediately to terminate that teacher.