Florida teacher accused of knocking tooth out of 7-year-old

A first grade teacher in Riviera Beach, Florida, is accused of violently shoving a 7-year-old boy’s head into a wall, causing him to lose a front tooth and injure his lip.

Cynthia Smith, 64, a teacher at Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School, was arrested Friday on a charge of child abuse. The school’s principal, Katrina Granger, had contacted school district police the day before upon learning of the incident, according to an arrest report.

An officer interviewed in the report says Smith claimed in a written statement that students were pushing one another and that one of them was pushed into the wall.

Cynthia Smith.Palm Beach County, Florida, Jail

But Palm Beach County School District Police said surveillance video from the school told a different story.

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Smith was standing in a hallway near her classroom on Jan. 28 as students walked on both sides of her, according to the arrest report.

The boy was seen in the video moving his hands on a bulletin board, the arrest report states. Smith walked toward the child, leaned in and violently shoved him face-first into the wall, according to the report.

The student’s “head appears to snap back from the force,” the arrest report says. Smith then walked away from the student, who had his head bowed and appeared to be “favoring his mouth area,” the report says.

Police say the impact caused “the child to lose a front tooth and [he] sustained a busted lip.”

Afterward, the boy is seen on camera re-stapling items on the board outside Smith’s classroom, police say.

Police said the principal told them that Smith has worked at the school for 12 years and that she has been investigated on at least four other occasions, although it is unclear why.

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Granger said she perceives Smith “as very aggressive towards the children, and she has received numerous complaints from parents on her behavior,” the arrest report states.

Smith posted a $3,000 surety bond Friday afternoon and was released from the county jail. She did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.

Julie Houston Trieste, a spokeswoman for the school district, said Smith has been placed in a position in which she will have no contact with children while the investigation is conducted.

“Employees are reassigned when under investigation,” Granger said.

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