Teacher who let her pupils hit boy won’t be indicted; Mother says ‘justice system has failed’ son who was punished

By Joshua Benton
Staff Writer

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A Dallas County grand jury decided Thursday not to indict a Seagoville Elementary School teacher who disciplined an 8-year-old boy by having his classmates take turns hitting him.

“She’s very relieved,” said the teacher’s attorney, Ted Steinke. “She feels bad about what happened. She had absolutely no malicious intent, nor did she have any intent to cause any injury to the child.”

The teacher, whose name has not been released by officials, has been on administrative leave with pay since shortly after the May 6 incident. Mr. Steinke said Seagoville police investigated and turned the case over without charges to the grand jury, which heard evidence Tuesday.

Parents of students in the class complained that after the boy got into trouble, the teacher asked the class to line up and take turns hitting him as punishment. The boy’s mother said he takes medication daily for emotional problems.

“I think the criminal justice system has failed,” said the mother, Shellee DeChant. “I was very surprised by the decision.”

Mr. Steinke said the teacher had apologized to the boy, his family and his classmates. “She understands she made a mistake,” he said. “She didn’t use the best judgment in that scenario.”

Dallas school district spokesman Donald Claxton said it had not yet been determined what further discipline the teacher will face. “There have been discussions about options,” he said. “They were going to be incumbent upon what happened with the grand jury. So now that they’ve taken action, I’m sure our employee relations folks will be making a decision.”

Mr. Steinke said his client wants “to remain with DISD and go back to work.” She is pursuing a master’s degree in early childhood education, he said.

Ms. DeChant said her son would be transferring to another school this fall.