Original URL:  http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0116school16.html

Teacher faces firing for hitting children
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 16, 2004 12:00 AM
Anne Ryman

Kids were speaking Spanish, board says

The Scottsdale School Board moved Thursday to fire a teacher who it said hit students for speaking Spanish in class instead of English.

Kim Youngblood, who teaches English Language Learner students, told district investigators in a report released Thursday that she was enforcing the district's English immersion program and did not intend to injure the children.

Youngblood, who taught seventh-graders at Ingleside Middle School, described the physical contact as "a gentle touch on the shoulders or a tap on the wrist."

The Scottsdale Unified School District investigation said Youngblood hit eight students at the east Phoenix school. The district said the hits ranged from slaps on the forearm to strikes with a pen. Some children said they were hit multiple times.

Youngblood, who will be notified that the board intends to fire her, has 30 days to appeal or automatically lose her job.

She responded by filing a lawsuit against the district Thursday in Maricopa County Superior Court, accusing officials of malicious prosecution, conspiracy and libel. She is asking for damages of at least $100,000 and compensatory and punitive damages of $1 million.

She did not return calls seeking comment Thursday.

District officials launched an investigation of Youngblood in April 2003 after a parent complained she had hit her child. Two other children also came forward.

A school district investigation said Youngblood admitted she made physical contact with students and told them to shut up.

Youngblood was placed on leave April 25 and has not been in the classroom since.

Other students later came forward, the district investigations says. One student said that he had been struck numerous times but that he didn't tell his parents because they had been in the country a short time and the child feared they would get in trouble for not being American citizens.

The Phoenix Police Department investigated the complaints in 2003 and turned the case over to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, which declined to file charges.

The board said Thursday that Youngblood broke several district policies and state law governing conduct with students. The allegations were made public after the board's 4-0 vote to notify Youngblood of its intent to fire her. Neither Youngblood nor her attorney were at the meeting.


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