An Escambia County teacher has been arrested after other employees reported that she hit a child with autism during the school day.
Sharon Jones, 66, faces one count of cruelty toward a child for the alleged incident, in which Jones said she was just trying to restrain the student at Warrington Elementary School.
The victim's guardian was called to the school March 15 and was told by the principal that two employees had reported that Jones had possibly hit the victim on the back side of his body the previous day. Jones claimed she just grabbed his arm because he was running toward the road.
A behavioral analyst for the Escambia County School Board, however, reported she had seen Jones shaking and hitting the child.
Police also interviewed Jones’ teacher assistant. She told police that around 8 a.m. that day, she and Jones were walking to the classroom from breakfast and the child was running through the garden when Jones grabbed the boy's arm firmly and yelled at him. She said she then got distracted and did not see what happened next.
The child's guardian told police that she believes there was an earlier incident as well. She said when she picked up the child from the school on March 10, he kept saying Jones punched him in the head and gestured to show what she did to him.
The guardian told police the child has mild autism and is not on medication for his behavioral issues.
The case is the third one this year in which local employees have been accused of assaulting children with developmental issues.
Brenda Morris, a substitute teacher for the district, was found guilty of one count of battery in December after she struck a developmentally disabled 4-year-old child at Lincoln Park Elementary School. Morris said at her sentencing in January that she was restraining the child, who had been misbehaving for most of the day.
Earlier this month, three recreation center workers were accused of child abuse for allegedly striking a 12-year-old with autism at a winter camp. Rose Patton James, Kemon O’Brian Johnson and Jarrett Peter Clifton have been accused of dragging the child and hitting him with a metal stick.
Jones was released from Escambia County Jail on the same day as her arrest, March 15. Her next court date is scheduled for April 6.
She has been suspended without pay during the investigation.