- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 9, 2006

A public-school teacher in Manassas has been charged with simple assault and battery for removing a first-grader’s sunglasses and scratching his face.

Rebecca Scott-Mitchell faces up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine if she is convicted of the charge, which stems from a Feb. 27 incident at Baldwin Elementary School. Police said the child’s face was scratched when Mrs. Scott-Mitchell confronted the boy about wearing sunglasses and removed them herself.

She is to be arraigned today in Prince William County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.

“The question is, ‘Did the teacher use excessive force or not?’” said Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul B. Ebert, whose office authorized a warrant for the assault charge.

“The child’s parents were very adamant about some sort of action being taken against the teacher.”

The child’s name has not been released, and his parents have not been identified.

Mrs. Scott-Mitchell has taught in Manassas schools for 15 years, and has been a teacher for more than 25 years, according to a Web site for Mrs. Scott-Mitchell’s first-grade class.

Police listed her place of residence as Martinsburg, W.Va. The Web site says she was born in the District, and she and her husband are restoring a house in West Virginia.

Mrs. Scott-Mitchell declined to comment on the charges yesterday. Her Dulles-based attorney, James J. Faughnan, could not be reached for comment.

Gloria Jackson, the school system’s assistant superintendent for education, said Mrs. Scott-Mitchell has been placed on administrative leave while the system conducts an investigation into the assault accusation.

“We are really concerned regarding this incident,” Miss Jackson said. “At this time, the investigation is ongoing. It is not conclusive.”

Miss Jackson said city police and the Department of Social Services also are conducting investigations.

Baldwin school officials referred questions to Miss Jackson.

The incident has produced mixed reactions in Manassas, whose school system does not operate under Prince William County’s jurisdiction.

Pam Sebesky, president of Baldwin’s PTA and a volunteer at the school for eight years, said school officials sent home a letter with students from city police regarding the incident.

Mrs. Sebesky called the incident an “unfortunate anomaly,” saying she had heard of no previous problems with Mrs. Scott-Mitchell.

“As a parent and being in charge of the PTA, most of the parents at that school are very pleased with the administration and with teachers at the school because it’s a very positive environment,” Mrs. Sebesky said.

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