A Pittsburgh kindergarten teacher faces several charges, including felony aggravated assault, following a physical confrontation with her student, WTAE-TV reports.
According to the news station, Pittsburgh Police Officer Robert Synowiec told the judge at a preliminary hearing on Wednesday that he viewed a video of the altercation.
The officer said the alleged victim, 7-year-old Tataina Summerville, and another kindergarten student were arguing about a chair. Their teacher, Danielle Anderson, stepped in and got within inches of Tataina’s face. That’s when the child pushed her teacher.
Anderson, 44, responded “aggressively” by pushing the girl onto the chair, and then pulled out the chair while Tataina was sitting in it. While the girl was on the ground, the teacher pressed the seat on her for a few seconds before tossing the chair across the room.
Tataina testified against her teacher at the hearing. The child told the judge that she was in pain when Anderson pressed the chair against her ribs and stomach.
In addition to felony assault, Anderson faces charges of unlawful restraint of a child and endangering the welfare of children, misdemeanor charges of simple assault, and reckless endangerment.
Anderson’s attorney, Paul Ellis, is expected to make a self-defense argument. He told WTAE-TV that the teacher had a responsibility to intercede when the two girls were squabbling. Ellis underscored that Tataina initiated the physical altercation when she shoved Anderson, which is an aggravated assault.
“I really feel for teachers these days. They’re thrust into dangerous situations; they’re assaulted by kids. I don’t know where this young lady learned that it was OK to put her hands on an adult. I don’t get that,” he told WTAE-TV.
School officials suspended Anderson with pay while she awaits trial.
The National Education Association published these suggestions, on how to teachers can avoid interactions with students from becoming adversarial, from Pete Lorain, a former middle school principal and president of the Association For Middle Level Education:
- Communicate clearly with the student, using understandable vocabulary.
- Be firm and direct.
- Use your tone and voice carefully. Don’t get angry or emotional.
- Be rational and objective.
- Always provide a time to listen to the student.
- Ignore trivial denials.