HIALEAH, Fla. - A first-grade teacher in Hialeah was released from jail on $15,000 bond Tuesday after she physically disciplined three of her students, police said.
Beth Ann Nemec, 47, faces seven counts of child abuse charges for the alleged incidents in her classroom at Horeb Christian School, where she has worked since August.
On one occasion, a 7-year-old boy told his mother that Nemec placed her hand over his mouth to prevent him from talking. He said she also flicked him on his cheek because he was talking too much.
In a separate incident, a 6-year-old boy told his mother that Nemec spanked him on his buttocks because he was sitting on his feet in his chair. He said she also hit him on the top of his head and would place her hand over his mouth to prevent him from talking. He also claims Nemec would flick his fingers when he would raise his hand in class.
According to the arrest report, another 6-year-old boy was a victim of Nemec. Police said the victim's mother observed a bruise on his left arm along with several scratches on his right inner arm. When she asked what happened, he told her Nemec tightly grabbed his arms causing the injuries. He said he told his teacher that she was hurting him and she stated that she didn't care.
When advised of the allegations, Nemec told detectives, "I didn't know I scratched him," the arrest report states.
Nemec tried to shield her face from the television cameras as she left the jail Tuesday afternoon.
"Leave me alone," she told Local 10 News investigative reporter John Turchin while placing a cardboard poster in front of her face.
While the charges may seem severe to some, police contend the law is the law.
"She crossed that line," Hialeah police Lt. Carl Zogby told Local 10. "She is not authorized -- not by the school, not by the law and not by the parents -- to touch the children in any way in a disciplinary fashion."
School principal Cindy Montes de Oca released a statement to Local 10 after Nemec's arrest.
"At Horeb Christian School, the safety of our children and staff is paramount," she said. "Our school has zero tolerance for any type of behavior that would endanger the safety of our students. We are very saddened by the allegations against Mrs. Nemec and are fully cooperating with the authorities as well as conducting our own internal investigation."
The principal also said Nemec was vetted according to protocol by the Florida Department of Children and Families prior to being hired. She said Nemec was hired full-time this school year after serving as an on-call substitute teacher during the last school year.
"We will continue to cooperate with authorities throughout this process," she said.
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