Clay Co. teacher arrested on child abuse charge
Deputies say coach put abusive student in choke hold
A physical education teacher at Oakleaf Junior High School turned himself in Monday night on charges of child abuse after Clay County deputies said he placed a student in a choke hold.
According to the Sheriff's Office report, Michael Ford, 42, was confronting a 13-year-old student about a broken chair last week. When the boy walked away and was verbally abuse, the teacher grabbed the student around the neck.
"He also grabbed his left arm and pinned it to his side and pushed him up against a railing of a portable," said Clay County Sgt. Bruce Owens.
Deputies say the student was released after about a minute and his only apparent injury was a cut to his elbow.
Witnesses said the student verbally threatened violence before Ford grabbed him.
Channel 4 crime and safety analyst Ken Jefferson says that's no excuse for an adult losing resorting to violence on a child.
"You cannot respond in a physical way," Jefferson said "Particularly if that child is not threatening to hurt himself, you, or anyone else. They're words and those adults need to remember that words don't hurt you."
Diane Skipper, whose granddaughter attends the school, agrees. She says this should be a lesson to both teachers and students.
"if you're going to be in this line of work, you have to be able to control yourself," Skipper said.
Ford, who has taught at Clay County schools since 2004, was suspended with pay pending the investigation of the incident by the Sheriff's Office and School Board.
Ford has been released on $753 bond.
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