Utah teacher charged with hitting disabled student

A special education teacher at an elementary school in the Granite School District faces a criminal charge accusing her of hitting a student after becoming frustrated.

Cindy Bell, 57, of Sandy, was charged Monday in 3rd District Court with abuse of a disabled child, a third-degree felony.

Bell was teaching a special needs class at Silver Hills Elementary, 5770 W. 5100 South, on Feb. 16. It was the end of the school day and the children were having a difficult time paying attention, according to charging documents, and the teacher’s aide could tell that Bell was “upset and annoyed.”

Bell was reading a story to the children and asked another aide to continue reading. As Bell walked through the students, who were sitting on the floor, she tripped and fell over a 7-year-old boy. She got up and walked to her desk and was “visibly frustrated,” the charges state.

Another student then “began mimicking Bell and falling onto the other students,” according to the charges. As an aide tried to get that student under control, Bell allegedly yelled at the aide and said she “would take care of it.”

The aide told investigators that when she looked over at Bell’s desk again, she saw her hit the student she had tripped over “on the back of the head three times, ‘boom, boom boom.’ (The boy) then said, ‘You hit me, you hit me’ and began to cry,” according to the charging documents. “(The boy) is significantly disabled and has limited verbal capacity.”

Bell was placed on administrative leave the next day and was fired on April 5, said Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley. She had worked in the district since 2001.

“The allegation was serious enough that we took appropriate steps to investigate,” Horsley said.

The boy did not suffer serious injury, he said.

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