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Texas Substitute Teacher Fired And Charged After Being Filmed Beating Student And Stomping On Her Head

ABC News / Youtube

A Spanish class at Lehman High School turned bitter on Friday when a substitute teacher harmed a student.

Tiffani Shadell Lankford, age 32, was a substitute teacher in Texas until Friday when a situation accelerated out of her control.

It’s been reported that a student, age 15 or 16, who has special needs including epilepsy, was disrupting her Spanish class.

Lankford approached the student and told her to “shut up.” The student did not comply and instead replied with, “No, you shut up,” and struck the substitute.

At this point, several fellow students in the class began to record videos of the exchange, and some even left the class in search of help.

Instead of walking away or sending the student to the principal’s office, Lankford’s response to the slap was to punch the student repeatedly in the face, before violently pulling her from her desk and stomping on her head while she was on the floor.

You can see one of the videos here.

*Warning: the content is disturbing

The student remained on the floor sobbing after the assault, and Lankford approached the front of the classroom again, as if to continue teaching over the wails.

Within minutes, Lankford was confronted and removed from the classroom. She was fired from substitute teaching for the Hays Consolidated Independent School District that day and escorted out of the school.

Lankford faces a felony charge for aggravated assault and was transferred immediately to the Hays County Jail after the altercation.

Lehman Principal Karen Zuniga stated:

“This afternoon, we fired one of our guest teachers for hitting and fighting with a student. Under no circumstances is that behavior tolerated at Lehman High School or in Hays CISD.”

“We take the safety and security of our students seriously. We took swift action when this incident occurred and will do everything necessary to protect our students.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott agreed:

“Conduct like this won’t be tolerated in Texas classrooms. The substitute teacher who committed this heinous act has been arrested and will face serious legal consequences.”

After seeing the video, the student’s father, who also wishes to remain anonymous, could not believe what he had just watched.

The father said: 

“You wouldn’t expect a teacher, or someone who knows better, an adult, to actually attack a child in that manner—it’s just mind-blowing.”

“I don’t know what a child could say to an adult that would make someone lose their mind like that and actually physically hurt somebody.”

The student was immediately released by the school to her father, who took her to their local hospital. She’s since had to have repeated medical treatments due to the injuries sustained during the exchange, paired with her epilepsy.

A spokesperson for Hays CISD also chimed in:

“As a Hays CISD family, when one of our schools and students is hurting, we all hurt. You may have already seen stories on the news tonight, or the video on social media, about a horrible incident that occurred late this afternoon at Lehman High School.”

“It was a traumatic event for the student, her classmates, and the teachers and staff at Lehman High School. Let us all keep the Lobos in our hearts this weekend.”

“I know we all wish our student and her family well as she recovers from this assault.”

Ooutsiders joined the conversation on Twitter.

Being the internet, some shared negative comments, claiming the student must have done something much more terrible than the news outlets are letting on to justify the substitute teacher’s behavior.

However, the overwhelming majority shared their support for the student and her family, hoping for fast healing and justice regarding Lankford’s behavior.

Thankfully the school district and police department reacted quickly and as a team to the situation. While it’s never okay for a student to strike a teacher, this violent of a reaction should not be an option.

McKenzie Lynn Tozan

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.