Mother outraged after 10-year-old son says teacher bit his ear

Hyde Park Elementary School teacher removed pending investigation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville mother is outraged after her 10-year-old son, who's a student at Hyde Park Elementary School, told her and police that a teacher bit his ear and scratched his head on Tuesday because of a hoodie he was wearing.

The Duval County school district said an investigation is ongoing to determine whether the claim is substantiated or not. 

Tasia Johnson, the child's mother, said the school's principal called her to inform her of the incident. 

"I had to ask her to say it again because that caught me totally off guard. (I said), 'Can you repeat that?' And she repeated the same thing, 'This is a call to inform you that your son was bitten on the ear by a teacher," Johnson told News4Jax Friday. "I had to take off work so I could be there to protect him because that's what I'm supposed to do as mother -- protect him."

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office incident report said that two witnesses saw the teacher, who was not named, walk over to the student at a table in the cafeteria and pull the hoodie he was wearing off his head.

One witness said the teacher said “I'm tired of that stupid hoodie.”

Another witness said the teacher cupped the student's ear and whispered to him before walking away.

The student then yelled, “Ow!” and told the other students at the table that the teacher had bitten his ear.

The responding officer found teeth marks on the boy's ear and a small cut that was bleeding on his head just above his ear.

The student told the officer that the teacher had scratched his head with her nails when she cupped his ear, and that she said “If you put that damn hoodie on again, I'm going to hurt you.”

He said that's when the teacher bit his ear.

Johnson was nervous to send her son back to school the next day, saying his injuries are very minor but since he's a student with a learning disability, she's worried about how it will affect him mentally and plans to take him to a counselor.

"I did bring it up to talk to him about it, to see if he was willing to do it. He's not really wanting to do so, but as a parent, we know what's best for our children, and sometimes we have to do things that they don't want us to do just to ensure that they're OK," she said. 

Attorney Marc Hardesty said he's there for Johnson to help make sure the investigation is handled properly. He added as a reminder that, right now, the situation is hearsay, which is why Duval County Public Schools is investigating. 

"Make sure that the school board and all those involved followed a reasonable procedure to take care of the situation," Hardesty said.

As of Friday, Johnson said she not heard from anyone with the district since the day it happened. 

The teacher has been removed from the classroom pending the outcome of the investigation, which involves talking to witnesses and checking surveillance. 

The Department of Children and Families is also involved, saying it's conducting its own investigation. The Sheriff's Office said school district police are heading the investigation, and it will assist if asked to do so.

Duval County Public Schools issued the following statement:

"An investigation began immediately after the incident occurred, which included contacting Duval County Public Schools Professional Standards, Duval County School Police and DCF. As shared with the parent immediately after the incident, the employee -- who is not an in-classroom teacher with the student -- would not have any interaction with her child. Also, as stated previously earlier this week, the employee has been relocated to a non-school location while this incident is under investigation."