A Florida teacher has been fired more than a year after biting a special-needs student, Florida Today reported.
Karen Williams, formerly a third-grade teacher at Columbia Elementary School in Palm Bay, was placed on paid administrative leave in December 2015 after biting one of her special-needs students on his back, the paper said.
The child told investigators he tried to get away from Williams after she grabbed him and put him in a "bear hug," Florida Today said. The student then bit Williams on her right hand to get free, and then Williams bit the student on his back "for like a minute," followed by the student biting Williams on the hand again, the paper said, citing a police report.
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An eyewitness heard the student "screaming hysterically" over the front office phone, and when she got to the classroom she found him crying with an oval-shaped red mark on his back.
Students in the classroom at the time couldn't say definitively they saw Williams bite their classmate, but said they did see her pull him into a tight hug and heard the student yelling "my back, my back."
Williams denied the allegations, but police found an adult-sized bite mark on his back below the left shoulder blade, as well as fingernail markings along his right side.
Williams was arrested Dec. 10, 2015, and charged with child abuse, a felony, the paper reported, adding that the charges were later reduced to culpable negligence that inflicts injury, a misdemeanor. Williams was found guilty Jan. 27, Florida Today said.
The Brevard County School Board voted to fire Williams on Tuesday night, the paper reported, adding that until the incident she was regularly rated "highly effective" in annual teacher evaluations.
Williams had been under a professional service contract, which stipulates that teachers can be dismissed only for unsatisfactory evaluations, gross insubordination, willful neglect of duties or conviction of a moral crime, Florida Today said.