Shawnee teacher kicks student; mother says school ignored abuse

SHAWNEE, KS (KCTV) — A mother says an elementary school teacher grabbed and kicked her 5-year-old daughter and when her daughter told a teacher about it, she says the school did nothing.

The only reason this mother says she knows a teacher hurt her daughter, was because her daughter, not the school, told her and there was video to prove what the teacher said happened was a lie.

The incident happened at during a kindergarten class at Bluejacket Flint Elementary school in Shawnee, KS.

That girl’s mother requested not to be identified and did not want to share her daughter’s name. The mother said she picked her daughter up from school Feb. 21, and that’s when she first heard something might be wrong. She asked her daughter how her day went, when her daughter responded, "I don’t like my teacher. She’s really mean. She hit me on my arm."

Her mother saw a large red mark on her arm. She tried called the school principal but couldn’t get through so she went back to the school to find out what happened. She learned her daughter had actually already told another teacher she’d been hit but nothing was done.

The mother recorded all of her conversations with her daughter’s teachers and school district staff from that point on.

You can hear the daughter’s IEP teacher talking to the mother, admitting the 5-year-old told her a teacher hit her, saying, “[The 5-year-old] did mention to me, ‘My teacher, like hit me’. I asked her what happened and she said she touched her on her arm but I wasn’t there so I’m not sure what happened.”

Then the mother met with Crystal Smith, the teacher her daughter accuses of hitting her. But that teacher tries to blame the child for what happened. You can hear Smith say the following:

“So, I’m not surprised she has some marks on her. She was crawling in the bookshelf. She has a red spot on her arm. And I’m not surprised because she shoved herself into that bookshelf…I mean, she kicked me a couple of times. She was reaching over into the bookshelf pulling books out and there were those metal, metal book divider things … I said don’t we can’t do that. So I put myself kind of standing around her so that if she does throw something she wouldn’t break something…”

But sensing something didn’t seem quite right, the mother pushed for more information and found out there may be video of the incident. The school confirmed the next day it existed, but it was more than a week before the mother was allowed to see it.

“When I saw the video it was heartbreaking, because everything she said, she sat at the same table as me and just lied about everything … she lied to me. She lied to everyone else. She was almost really convincing,” the mother told KCTV5.

The kindergartner’s teacher had described a violent 5-year-old thrashing around, throwing books, kicking her teacher, but the video shows something very different.

The video shows the little girl refusing to get in line with the rest of her class. She crawls up into a bookshelf while the rest of her class leaves the library. That’s when her teacher finds her in the bookshelf, grabs her by the arm, drags her out on the ground, and when no one is looking, kicks her in the back.

“I can’t really even put it into words. I hurt for my child, and I was just angry that someone could do that,” the mother said.

She worries about not only her daughter’s, but other students’ safety.

“I said, ‘OK, had my child not said anything to me, you were just going to go behind closed doors and speak to everyone else, and if something came up then you’d let me know? But had she not said anything to me it all. I may not have ever known," she said.

The mother says the school told her Smith was put on leave pending the end of the investigation and was officially terminated March 25.

The Shawnee Mission School District issued the following statement:

“The Shawnee Mission School District was deeply distressed by the actions shown in the video. We take our responsibility to keep our children safe extremely seriously, and as parents and educators, we are heartbroken whenever a child is not treated with love and respect. As soon as we discovered what happened, we acted to remove the teacher from contact with students, and proceeded immediately to terminate that teacher.”

The Johnson County District Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case to determine whether to press charges.

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