Elementary school teacher charged with assaulting student

February 04, 2010|By Don Markus and John-John Williams IV | Baltimore Sun reporters

A fifth-grade teacher at a Howard County elementary school has been charged with assaulting a student after allegedly shoving the 11-year-old girl.

The charge stems from an incident alleged to have occurred on Jan. 13 at Jeffers Hill Elementary School. The girl told her mother that teacher Tracie Clay verbally reprimanded her and told her to leave a classroom, police said.

The girl said Clay then pushed her in the back through an open doorway into a hallway, police said.

The girl's mother called police. During an interview with the child at her home, police said, an officer observed a red mark on her back. After police spoke with witnesses at the school, Clay was issued a summons to appear in District Court.

Police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said that the visible mark was "one of the factors" in issuing the summons, as was the account by witnesses.

Clay, 38, of Laurel, was charged Tuesday with second-degree assault.

Howard County Public Schools spokeswoman Patti Caplan said that Clay has been placed on administrative leave with pay. Caplan said that Clay has been a teacher in the Howard Couty school system for seven years, all at the Columbia school. Caplan would not say whether Clay had any past disciplinary issues or similar incidents in the county.

Caplan also declined to identify the student involved, citng privacy laws. Clay is to appear in court on March 30.

Pamela Butler, who has been the principal at Jeffers Hill for the past seven years, declined comment, Thursday but added, "Now that it's public knowledge, the community will be informed." Butler said that she would follow county policy by informing the parents whose children attend the school.

Clay was unavailable for comment.

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