Wednesday, October 13, 2010

N.C. teacher who broke the arm of 5-year-old disabled student still on paid leave

From The Fayettesville Observer in N.C.:

A Cumberland County school teacher who broke the arm of a 5-year-old student remains on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation by school administrators.

The teacher, 57-year-old Jackie Bennett, was trying to perform a restraining hold on the child when her arm broke, according to school system spokeswoman Theresa Perry.

Bennett taught children in kindergarten through second grade with mental and behavioral learning disabilities at J.W. Coon Elementary School.

Officials are investigating whether Bennett followed the school system's procedures for when and how to restrain a student, Perry said.

Bennett performed a therapeutic hold on the child, a technique used to restrain a student to prevent harm to himself or others, Perry said.

School policy states the "physical restraint of students by school personnel can be used as reasonably needed to ensure the safety of any student, school employee, volunteer, or other person present to prevent self-injurious behavior."

The language of the policy is part of the investigation, Perry said.

"Because the investigation is wrapping up, we decided not to reassign Bennett to another job within the system," Perry said.

The maximum amount of time a school employee can be suspended with pay is 90 days, Perry said.

Over the past year, Ruben Reyes, executive director of exceptional child services for the county school system, and David Phillips, the system's lawyer, reviewed the student restraint policy to make sure it was in compliance with state law, Perry said.

Prior to coming to the school system in 1995, Bennett served 20 years in the Air Force, according to records from the school system.

Bennett was charged with assault inflicting serious bodily injury and child abuse inflicting serious injury, according to court records.

He could not be reached for comment Oct. 8.