Sarasota substitute named in attack on 3 students
Booker Elementary students say he punched 2 boys and shoved a girl
By Carrie Wells & Anthony Cormier
Friday, January 14, 2011
SARASOTA - A second-grade substitute teacher at Booker Elementary School became so frustrated with the classroom's ActivBoard that he reportedly punched two students and pushed a third, leading to his arrest Thursday on child abuse charges.
- The Arrest Report (PDF - 327kb)
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The school district has suspended substitute teacher William Amory, 55, who is charged with child abuse.
William Amory, 55, of the 2400 block of 8th Street in Sarasota, was charged with three counts of child abuse, a felony. His bail had not been set as of Thursday night.
According to a Sarasota County Sheriff's Office report:
Amory was substituting on the morning of Jan. 6 when he could not get the classroom's ActivBoard to work.
"Students tried to help the defendant, but he became upset and angry," a detective wrote in Amory's arrest report.
Amory then threw the device's remote control, yelled and cursed at the students, then punched two students and pushed a third. Two of the students, who were not named, are 8 years old and one is 7 years old.
The students told their regular teacher the next day, who then notified the principal, who reported the incident to the state Department of Children and Families and to the Sheriff's Office.
Witnesses confirmed the incident, and when the children were interviewed, one told deputies that Amory punched him in the stomach twice, causing him to vomit.
Another victim said Amory's punch caused him to go to a hospital emergency room for a chest bruise, and the female student told deputies Amory's push had caused her to fall back into her chair.
When her grandson came home last Thursday and said he had been in a fight, Bridgett Polk thought the 8-year-old scuffled with another student.
It was not until the next day, when Booker's principal showed up with sheriff's deputies, that she realized something was amiss. The boy later told investigators, and Polk, that his teacher had been the one who attacked him.
"I don't know if he was just having a bad day or what," Polk said Thursday afternoon in an interview at her home. "But he gut-punched my grandchild. It's not right. You don't put your hands on a child."
Polk says the boy told her that two others were also injured, including a child who was pushed into a wall and struck his head. The children tried to leave the classroom to tell the principal what happened, but Amory blocked them from leaving, Polk said. "They tried to get out and he wouldn't let them," she said. "What kid of man does that?"
Polk said the boy has returned to school and visited a doctor, but is still scared about having a teacher he does not know in his classroom.
"We always told our kids that school is a safe place, that no one would hurt them," she said. "And then this happens."
Booker's principal, Dawn Clayton, and a union official did not return repeated phone calls on Thursday.
As soon as the school district learned of the complaints, Amory was suspended from teaching, said Scott Ferguson, the Sarasota County School District spokesman.
Ferguson said Amory had two previous, non-violent complaints against him in 2003 and 2009. In one incident, the principal at Booker High School said she did not want him working for the school after he allegedly swore at students.
In the other incident, the principal at Sarasota Middle School wanted Amory transferred after he read the Bible in class instead of teaching, Ferguson said. While a principal can request that a substitute teacher not return, the incidents did not warrant him losing his job, Ferguson said.
Ferguson did not know how long Amory had worked for the school district.
Sarasota substitute named in attack on 3 students | HeraldTribune.com
No Teacher of the Year Award for him.