A Kansas teacher who was fired in March after reportedly being filmed kicking a 5-year-old girl could face criminal charges months after the recorded incident.
Though Crystal Smith was fired from her job at Bluejacket-Flint Elementary School, the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office told NBC News they’re currently investigating the February 21 complaint. A lawyer representing the girl’s parents also confirmed that the family is filing a civil lawsuit following the release of the library video.
In the video, the girl’s seen crawling into a library bookshelf before Smith forcefully pulls her out. She then bends over to pick up a piece of paper and walks off.
Moments later, Smith returns and is spotted kicking the student in the back as another adult in the library isn’t looking.
The girl’s mother reportedly alerted school officials the same day, prompting them to locate surveillance footage depicting the alleged assault. The mother claimed she found red marks on her daughter, and that the child accused Smith of hitting her, according to NBC.
Further, the girl’s mother told KCTV that her daughter had told another teacher about the library incident but that teacher failed to report it. The mother said she recorded all subsequent interactions with teachers and school district officials.
In one of the recorded encounters, the girl’s IEP teacher is reportedly caught admitting that the girl had confided in them about the incident.
“[The 5-year-old] did mention to me, ‘My teacher, like hit me’. I asked her what happened and she said she touched her on her arm but I wasn’t there so I’m not sure what happened,” the IEP teacher told the mother, according to the news station.
In another recording, Smith reportedly tells the mother that her daughter caused her own injuries by climbing into the bookshelf. Smith allegedly also accused the child of kicking her several times during the ordeal.
“So, I’m not surprised she has some marks on her. She was crawling in the bookshelf,” Smith was reportedly taped saying.
“She was reaching over into the bookshelf pulling books out and there were those metal, metal book divider things…I said don’t we can’t do that. So I put myself kind of standing around her so that if she does throw something she wouldn’t break something…”
A school district spokesperson said Smith, a kindergarten teacher, was immediately placed on administrative leave before her termination on March 15. Police declined to comment further on their ongoing investigation.
[Featured image: Shawnee Police Department video screengrab]