By Kelli Stopczynski (email@example.com)
5:59 PM EST, December 14, 2012
A teacher charged with hitting a special needs student told the school principal she "just lost it." That’s according to court documents filed against 44-year-old Saundra Yute.
Police say Yute slapped and spanked a 12-year-old LaVille Junior High student after she had a bathroom accident Nov. 20. Yute is now facing a felony charge for battery to a child.
The girl’s mother is making it her mission to make sure Yute never teaches again.
“That’s my biggest thing. Keep her out of schools, away from kids so she can’t do that to anybody ever again,” said Tracy Martin.
She’s had just over three weeks to wrap her head around what the school principal and a teacher’s aide who said she witnessed the incident said happened. But Martin is still mad.
“[I’m] angry at the school for putting a teacher in that position that never should have been there, angry at the teacher. You can't hit someone else's child,” she said.
Her daughter Becca is in the 7th grade. She has Sturge-Weber Syndrome, which leaves her with severe neurological problems. She can’t speak, doesn’t write and isn’t potty trained.
“I think it’s been an eye-opener for anybody,” said LaVille Junior/Senior High School Principal Jeremy Tucker.
This was Yute’s first year teaching the “Life Skills” class for special needs students. Before that, Tucker said, she was a guidance counselor at a school in Northwest Indiana.
Yute is a licensed teacher, and obtained an “emergency license” to be able to teach the special needs class. The regular teacher for that class is out on maternity leave.
“I think it just reiterates the fact that as an educator and as a public employee you cannot put your hands on a student, and the consequences are severe, as they should be,” Tucker said.
Yute resigned 20 minutes after the alleged incident happened, he added.
“She was very apologetic. She was crying. She knew what she had done was a gross offense,” he said.
The school called police and Child Protective Services immediately. Tucker phoned Becca’s mom nearly four hours after the initial report from the teacher’s aide.
Tucker said the school needed time to fully investigate what had happened.
Martin said she’s mostly happy with the way the school handled the situation, but added she has a lot of respect for the teacher’s aide who reported it.
“She was able to speak up for my daughter when she couldn’t [speak for herself], you know?”
Becca just went back to school this week, three weeks after the alleged incident, because Martin said she needed to be sure the school has made changes. The school hired a retired, certified special needs teacher and made some other changes, Tucker said. Administrators also met with Becca’s mom to make sure they’re on the same page.Yute was arrested Thursday and bonded out of the St. Joseph County Jail 90 minutes later.
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