Classroom aide charged after student found dangling from chalkboard

Reuters News
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Posted: May 20, 2016 12:27 PM

By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A former teacher assistant faces a charge of reckless conduct over an incident involving a five-year-old special needs student found hanging by his belt from a classroom chalkboard at a suburban Atlanta school, his lawyer said on Friday.

Antonio Cammon, 43, was to turn himself into authorities on the misdemeanor charge by Friday evening, his attorney Jackie Patterson said in a phone interview.

Tiwon Toney, the principal at the elementary school where Cammon previously worked in Rockdale County, Georgia said at a court hearing on Thursday that he went to the room after hearing screams during the May 5 incident.

The principal said he had found the child hanging from a hook, according to Patterson. Cammon was standing about three feet away, the principal testified.

Patterson said his client was trying to calm the unruly child by lifting him into the air, but the youth's belt accidentally snagged a hook on the chalkboard as the aide brought him back down.

"When Mr. Cammon noticed that, he immediately took him down," said Patterson.

Cammon was later fired by the school system, according to his lawyer.

Neither the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office nor school system immediately returned phone calls seeking comment on Friday.

The reckless conduct charge is a lesser offense than the felony child cruelty charge that the sheriff's department had recommended, Patterson said.

At the hearing on Thursday, a Rockdale County judge declined to charge a teacher and another teaching assistant with failure to report child abuse.

(Editing by Letitia Stein and G Crosse)