A Shawnee, Kansas, elementary school teacher caught on camera kicking a 5-year-old student could face criminal charges for the Feb. 21 incident, pending an inquiry by the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office.
Video of the interaction shows the 5-year-old girl crawl onto a bookshelf in the Bluejacket-Flint Elementary School library as the other kids file out. The teacher, identified as Crystal Smith, pulls the girl onto the floor and walks away, then returns and chats briefly with another teacher across the room.
When the second teacher turns away, Smith kicks the girl in the back, then rolls her over and appears to say something to her. After another 25 seconds, the girl gets up and is escorted out of view by Smith.
The first-year teacher was fired on March 25, following an investigation by school administrators, reports the Kansas City Star.
Audio recordings provided by the girl’s mother to KCTV 5 News show Smith lied about the girl’s conduct to the family, and dismissed the girl’s claim she’d been hit. The girl told a different teacher that day she’d been hit, but the second teacher said she was unsure what had actually happened and therefore hadn’t reported it.
“I can’t really even put it into words. I hurt for my child, and I was just angry that someone could do that,” the mother told the station. “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.”
In addition to possible criminal charges from the district attorney, the family has hired a personal attorney to pursue a civil suit.
“There was no question that we were going to do everything we could immediately to terminate that teacher and to look after that child,” Shawnee Mission School District spokesman David Smith told the Star. “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.”