Special Needs Student’s Hair Pulled by Teacher, Student to Gain Compliance

The Sumter County Sheriff’s Office says that a Florida elementary school teacher pulled the hair of a student with special needs as a way to punish the child.

The suspect works with the Exceptional Student Education (ESE) program at Wildwood Elementary School, which is about 50 miles northwest of Orlando. The “physical abuse” probe started on May 9, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.

“The teacher was accused of pulling a special needs child’s hair and ears to get the child to do what she wanted, even though she knew it hurt and upset the child,” the sheriff’s office said.

“The Sumter County Sheriff’s Office did an investigation and talked to witnesses, and they came to the conclusion that the defendant used physical force to get a special needs child in her class to stop acting up when the victim did.”

The teacher, who lives in Bushnell and is 55 years old, was arrested on May 11 and charged with cruelty toward a child without causing serious physical harm, which is a third-degree felony, according to officials. Records show that she was freed the same day on a $2,000 bond.

The student’s grade levels and ages were not made public.

The suspect has been teaching since 1991. The district says that he works with both kids with special needs and those in “general education.”

Greatschools.org says that there are 827 kids in pre-kindergarten through grade 5 at Wildwood Elementary.

Sumter County School District says that the Exceptional Student Education program helps kids with a wide range of disabilities, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, “emotional/behavioral disability,” and speech and hearing problems.

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