Teacher who taped students' mouths didn't commit a crime, cops say
A teacher who kept her kids quiet by placing tape over 28 second graders' mouths may not have used the best judgment -- and she's been placed on administrative leave. But she didn't commit a crime.
That's the conclusion of the Aurora Police Department about a bizarre incident that happened last week at the city's Fulton Elementary.
It's a decision that hasn't made everyone happy. The complete police report plus photos and video below.
According to the report, entitled "Cruelty to Child Narrative/Remarks," an officer was called to the Fulton Elementary School just shy of 4 p.m. on Thursday after the APD received a complaint from a parent whose child had tape placed her her mouth by her teacher.
The teacher's name, and that of children and parents, are blotted out in the text.
The school's principal, Jill Lliteras, was up to speed on this claim and called the teacher, who subsequently decided to set aside her right to speak with an attorney and speak to the officer immediately.
What happened? The teacher is quoted as admitting that she's had trouble with her class of 28 second graders all year long when it comes to being quiet in the library -- so much so that she'd joked about putting tape over their mouths. The kids had responded positively to this quip on Thursday, laughing as they asked her to go ahead.
The teacher added that she'd only used small pieces of Scotch tape -- not nearly enough to prevent them from yapping, let alone breathing properly. Moreover, she maintained that the taping was mainly done for the enjoyment of the school's librarian.
The officer asked if touching the children to apply the tape violated a school policy. Principal Lliteras said "no," since hugging and patting kids is deemed okay. However, the report continues, "she thought even placing tape as a prank on the mouths of children was not a good idea."
The teacher was crying and upset throughout the report due in part to her knowledge that the upset parent had phoned 9News, and the station was planning to go ahead with a story. She insisted that she never would do anything to harm a child.
Maybe not intentionally, but the child with the unhappy parent told the officer that removing the tape had hurt (although there was no redness or sign of injury around her mouth), and she'd saved it to show to her mom. She added that she has asthma and suffered a previous attack at the school.
Nonetheless, the cops quickly determined that the actions didn't fit the APD's criteria for child neglect and/or child abuse. "This case is being inactivated due to lack of probable cause," the report concludes.
There's still the possibility -- make that "probability" -- of disciplinary action against the teacher, who is in her first year of teaching. So says Daniela Bennet, a parent who spoke with 9News.
In Bennett's view, the teacher shouldn't be sacked for the taping incident; she stresses that the teacher loves and cares about all her students. But the parent who raised the alarm in the first place remains unhappy.
Whatever happens, the teacher has no doubt learned quite a lesson.
Look below to see the 9News piece, followed by the police report.
More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Suzanne Warmington, daycare teacher, busted for pulling knife on six year old."