Baker teacher allegedly strangled student

Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 5:43pm

BAKER, La (FOX44) — An elementary school teacher is behind bars after, police say, she choked a six-year-old student, and then dragged her across the playground at recess.

Ora Williams has two children in the Baker school system right now.

“You send your kids to school thinking, you know, a parent away from home,” she says. “The teacher will take care of your child, not abuse your child!”

She was furious when she heard about the incident that happened right down the street from her house at Bakerfield Elementary.

“That’s cruel to a baby!” she says. “A six-year-old baby? Oh, that’s cruel!”

“It’s not right,” adds Kim Barnes. She has grandchildren that attend schools in Zachary, and she wants to keep it that way. “They need to check the schools out here.”

According to police, Mildred Russ, 65, wrapped a sweater around a six-year-old child’s neck, and then dragged her across the playground by the sweater with so much force that the girl was pulled out her shoes.

“I’m really shocked to hear that this happened,” says Baker Police Chief Mike Knapps. “I’m even more shocked by the teacher involved. I was in the classroom with the teacher as a D.A.R.E. officer for about three years. She was one of the nicest, kindest people I’ve been around in a long time.”

Knapps isn’t sure what the child had been doing before the incident, but he says it doesn’t matter. “There’s no reason, no excuse for this to happen.”

Now, some parents wonder if Bakerfield Elementary is safe.

“I always thought it was a good school,” says Coletha Jackson. Her son attends Pre-K there. “It makes me reconsider about him going here.”

Knapp says parents have no reason to worry. “Don’t be shocked and don’t be so upset you feel like you need to take your children out of the schools because of this incident,” he says. “This isn’t the norm. It’s a first for me.”

Russ is booked in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on one count of Cruelty to a Juvenile. The Baker Schools superintendent says the incident is under investigation and once he knows exactly what happened, the school system will take the proper action.

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