Teacher’s aide who sat on a child with autism won’t be charged

LAKE CITY, Fla. – A former school teacher’s aide won’t be charged after she sat on a child with autism.

The child’s mother shared a video from April 25 at Summers Elementary School in Columbia County. The schools camera captured a woman ripping a toy away from a 5-year-old. He throws mulch in her direction, then she comes back and sits on him for about 10 seconds.

News4JAX obtained the decline letter from the State Attorney’s Office Third Judicial Circuit explaining why they won’t press charges.

They say “it is the opinion of the undersigned that the contact that occurred in this case, while inappropriate especially for a child with special needs, does not meet the legal definition of any of the crimes described above and therefore none of the above charges can ethically be levied by the Office of the State Attorney.”

“If you believe it’s inappropriate, why are you not prosecuting? However, as they finish the sentence, the point is…is there a reasonable probability of conviction?” said attorney Gene Nichols.

Nichols said he respects the State Attorney’s decision, but he would’ve prosecuted this woman for battery.

The State Attorney found the employee was responsible for supervising children – which allowed her to make physical contact if it didn’t rise to the level of child abuse.

“I disagree,” said Nichols. “If a parent had done the same thing to this child, would the parent have committed a crime? And if we answer that question with a no, then the state attorney’s office probably made the right decision. If we answer that question with Yes, then the state attorney’s office probably should have prosecuted for battery.”

Nichols says he feels a jury would find this woman went too far. The child’s mother doesn’t have many options. She can file a civil lawsuit, but public schools have immunities, and her child wasn’t physically injured.

The mother says the employee was fired from the school. She hopes this woman never works around kids again.

We reached out to the Columbia County school district and the principal at Summers Elementary School, we will update you when we hear back.

About the Author:

A Florida-born, Emmy Award winning journalist and proud NC A&T SU grad