Manatee middle-schooler charged with battery in cell phone case

A 12-year-old's behavior with a teacher and a deputy is at the center of a Manatee County controversy.

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- The battle over cell phones in school has landed one Bay area student — a 12-year-old girl -- in jail.

The student from Lee Middle School in Manatee County is charged with battery on her teacher for trying to take away her phone and for resisting arrest.

“You’re not supposed to have cell phones in class — it’s common sense,” says Tina Mathis, a parent and grandmother.

Students know to keep phones out of sight until the bell rings. But the student at Lee Middle apparently couldn’t wait. Deputies say when the teacher went to grab her phone she grabbed the teacher’s arm and dug in her nails.

“That’s wrong. A child shouldn’t be acting that way in school,” says Mathis.

“According to the incident report,  Deputy Howard Claar had finished writing the report on the alleged attack on the teacher and was about to handcuff the student when he says she attacked him.”

“She started kicking the deputy repeatedly, tried to bite the deputy. We had no other recourse but to charge her with battery on a school official and battery on a deputy and now she faces two felonies — 12 years old,” says Dave Bristow, spokesperson with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

“She didn’t have to do that over a cell phone too much for a phone,” says Mayra Ibara.

Mathis adds, “She should have been raised better than that.”

“When you hit an officer that’s really bad ... have to respect everybody,” says John Anotonio, a parent.

The sheriff’s office says the student didn’t’ respect anyone. “She didn’t respect the teacher, she didn’t respect the deputy,” says Bristow. He adds, “You’d think her responses would have been yes ma'am I’ll put my phone away but her response was belligerent and very defensive.”

But some think arresting the student was too severe a punishment.

“I think that’s a little too overboard ... 12 years old with two felonies, now her career her life is ruined,” says Christopher Aquilar, a parent.

“She’s a child always have that now, always on her record,” adds Mathis.

The school district has its own punishment. The Code of Student Conduct reads:

Violent Acts

If you violently attack a School Board employee or any other person or act as a decoy in a violent attack at school, a school function, on the bus or at a bus stop while the bus is present, you will be suspended from school for up to 10 days and may face a recommendation for expulsion or reassignment to an alternative program. If you violently attack another person somewhere else other than school, you may be removed from the general education program and administratively assigned to another program if your principal believes your presence on campus may be disruptive or pose a concern for the safety of students or staff.

Click here for the Code of Student Conduct found under the parent’s page at manateeschools.net

 A reminder for all students -- actions have consequences.

The sheriff’s office says it will up to a judge to determine what happens next to the 12-year-old student.

(© 2016 WTSP)


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