Howard Teacher Is Charged With Assaulting 11-year-old

February 05, 2010|By Don Markus and John-John Williams IV | Don Markus and John-John Williams IV,don.markus@baltsun.com and John-John.WilliamsIV@baltsun.com

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

The charge stems from an incident alleged to have occurred Jan. 13 at Jeffers Hill Elementary School. The girl told her mother that teacher Tracie Clay 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.

The girl's mother called police. During an interview with the child, 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 schools spokeswoman Patti Caplan said Clay has been placed on administrative leave with pay. Caplan said Clay has been a teacher at the Columbia school for seven years. 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, citing privacy laws. Clay is to appear in court March 30.

Pamela Butler, principal at Jeffers Hill, declined comment, but she did say, "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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