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District: Employee hit special needs student in head with Lysol can

Jacksonville employee fired, four others disciplined for inappropriate conduct

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An employee at a Duval County public school for students with special needs was fired Tuesday after a district investigation found that she hit one of the students in the head several times with a Lysol can.

Tiffany Bullard was one of five school district employees disciplined this week after investigations into inappropriate conduct. The other four were all suspended without pay.

Investigators said Bullard, a paraprofessional at Oak Hill Academy, whacked a boy in the head as many as five times with a can of Lysol during an incident April 19. The school serves students with autism spectrum disorders or related disabilities. 

According to the investigative report, the boy Bullard hit needed at least one stitch to close a wound to his head.

One witness told investigators that Bullard put the can back on the shelf after the incident and when other teachers noticed the boy bleeding, Bullard said he “must have hurt himself” falling down.

Another witness said the boy “had blood all over him” after the incident.

Investigators said that at the time of the report in April, Duval County School Board police were also investigating Bullard for possible criminal charges related to the incident. The Department of Children and Families was notified.

The School Board voted this week to terminate Bullard's employment with the district. Prior to the termination, she had been suspended without pay.

Student injured in science experiment

According to investigators, Asante Dean, a science teacher at Westside High School, tried to burn alcohol in a classroom as part of a demonstration and a student's shirt caught fire, causing severe injuries.

An investigative report found that Dean “exercised gross poor judgment” in trying the experiment at a desk where the student was seated, instead of on the designated lab countertops.

Students who were in the classroom Feb. 28 said Dean had performed the experiment successfully at the desk, but that the student who was injured came in late and missed the first demonstration.

The student sat at one of the desks where Dean had lit alcohol on fire in a beaker, and the other students warned him to move, but Dean said the student could stay there and that he would show him the demonstration again, the report said.

When Dean poured more alcohol into the beaker, something went wrong and it “shot across the desk,” igniting the student's shirt, witnesses said.

The student jumped up and ran into a wall in his panic, and Dean tried to pat out the fire, but had to pull off the student's shirt to put out the flames, according to the report.

Dean received a 30-day suspension without pay for the incident.

Teacher accused of slapping kids

Several fifth-graders at Hyde Park Elementary School have accused teacher Amanda Jones of slapping them in the face and cursing in front of them. Jones told investigators she “brushed” the students' faces, but investigators determined that however she touched the students was inappropriate. 

An investigative report, which began on Feb. 13, also concluded Jones was unprofessional in using curse words in front of the students, and she was suspended for 30 days without pay.

Jones has been in trouble for foul language before, receiving a written reprimand in 2013. She also got a verbal warning and verbal reprimand in 2017 for other incidents, including one where officials said she pulled a student by a backpack, causing him to hit his head on a door.

Employee admits to throwing student

Marvin Pemberton, a paraprofessional at Holiday Hill Elementary School, received a 30-day suspension without pay after an investigation found that he threw a student to the floor and held him down with a hand on his chest.

The student suffered a concussion and bruised chest in the incident, which was reported March 12.
According to an investigative report, Pemberton admitted that he did not use proper crisis management techniques after the student hit him and spit on him.

The State Attorney's Office declined to pursue criminal charges in the case.

Employee misses too many days

A Bayview K-6 Elementary School paraprofessional was cited after investigators found that she had skipped 14 days of work without pay without prior approval. An investigative report determined that Ta'naia Conyers had also signed her initials on a sign-in sheet for days that she was absent.

It was the fourth time since January that Conyers was investigated for missing work without permission. She previously received a verbal warning, a verbal reprimand and a written reprimand.

Altogether, Conyers was found to have used more than 30 days of unauthorized leave without pay since January, according to the report.

Conyers was suspended for 15 days without pay for the fourth offense.