A Texas kindergarten teacher was taken into custody on Tuesday after reportedly slapping a 5-year-old student at Helen Ball Elementary School, marking the second time she’s been nabbed for allegedly harming children.
Olga S. Najera, 52, was booked into the county jail under a $15,000 bond, according to the El Paso Police Department.
KFOX 14 reported on Najera’s first run-in with law enforcement when she was arrested in August for allegedly pinching a student under the age of 14 on the arm, as well as scratching the child around the hands, in an incident that took place in August 2016. According to court documents obtained by the television station, she is also said to have slapped the child on the face, stepping on his foot and kicking him.
Najera was placed on administrative leave in March due to reports of inappropriate behavior, but there were no findings to prove the allegations and she was transferred to another school, the district said. Though Najera was cleared by the school district probe, which allowed her to return to work, the case was then turned over to the police for investigation. Further investigation led to the August arrest.
The latest incident took place at Helen Ball Elementary School between July 31 and Aug. 28, according to a police statement.
Najera’s attorney, Mary Stillinger, has presented the defense that 5-year-olds aren’t credible witnesses.
“Olga Najera has worked as a bilingual educator of very young children for over ten years in the Socorro Independent School District. She has an excellent reputation with students, parents and fellow teachers. The accusations made against her are absolutely false,” Stillinger said. “The allegations have been investigated and were found to be without any merit.
“Unfortunately, it is very easy to manipulate or misunderstand what very young children say. Our children’s safety and education are of utmost importance, but it is also law enforcement’s responsibility to do thorough investigation, before bringing charges. That was not done here. These false accusations have been devastating to Ms. Najera and her reputation. We are looking forward to clearing Ms. Najera’s name and getting her back in the classroom.”
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