Bedford Co. teachers accused in alleged slap on autistic child - WSMV Channel 4

Bedford Co. teachers accused in alleged slap on autistic child

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Two teachers are in trouble with the law after one of them allegedly struck a student who has special needs and the other failed to do anything about it.

Investigators say the incident involves a child with autism at Harris Middle School in Bedford County.

Sheriff Randall Boyce said the alleged slap may not have been that hard, but it was enough to put W. Bret Lawrence behind bars.

"The gentleman that was involved in this claimed that he took his hand and kind of smacked him on the mouth," Boyce said. "I didn't see any marks on the child on his mouth."

Lawrence, an assistant teacher, allegedly slapped the student after the child began cursing.

"You can't put your hands on them. It's not an issue of you knocked them on the mouth. It's an issue of you can't put your hands on them. That's how it is," Boyce said.

Deputies interviewed Lawrence and changed him with assault.

"Sometimes kids push a little too far, and that's unfortunate, but that's what you have to be trained not to let happen," Boyce said.

Now, a second educator has been charged. Sonya Schmidt, the main teacher in the classroom, is accused of failing to report the incident after investigators said she knew about the alleged incident but said nothing.

"Some additional information has come to the surface, and we're still investigating and there could be other charges," Boyce said.

Late Tuesday afternoon, investigators added another assault charge for Lawrence after he allegedly pushed the same student, leaving a bruise, after the student refused to turn around in his chair.

Lawrence has been suspended without pay from school, and the principal said they have not yet made a decision on whether they will keep Schmidt in the classroom.

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