(PALM COAST, Fla.) — A teacher in Florida is facing a charge of simple battery, after cellphone footage taken during class showed him lifting a 14-year-old student out of his desk and shoving him out of the classroom.
The incident occurred Tuesday at Buddy Taylor Middle School in Palm Coast, Florida, according to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.
Jeffrey Paffumi, 47, said that the student was “being disobedient” and had “refused to turn down his music when asked to,” according to the charging document. The teacher, who’s been with the district since 2005, said that when he attempted to pause the student’s music, the teen “slapped his hand away and turned the music back on.”
Paffumi told police the student also had called him a “cracker.”
In the video, taken by an unknown student but shared with police, Paffumi can been grabbing the teen who is sitting at a desk and lifting him out of his seat.
“Show me how tough you are. Wanna call me a ‘cracker,'” he says to the teen as he carries him toward the classroom door.
“Mr. Paffumi grabs (the teen) with his right arm and lifts him out of the chair. Mr. Paffumi then hooks Derrick’s right arm with his left arm … (and) lifts (the teen) off his feet and carries him across the classroom,” the charging document said, according to an officer who watched the video. “Once he was outside the classroom, Mr. Paffumi then put (the teen) down and shoved him away from the doorway towards the hall.”
Paffumi told authorities that he’d treated the teen like an “unruly student and grabbed him safely so he couldn’t hurt himself or anybody else,” according to the charging document.
He also told police that “once outside the door, he pushed (the teen) to separate themselves in case (the teen) was mad” and so the student could not strike him.
The parents of the 14-year-old boy told the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office that the incident had occurred during first period Tuesday. He told them about it Tuesday night. The teen was later sent a video of the incident from an unknown student who was also in the class. Authorities said the teen’s parents then alerted the school administrators Wednesday.
According to the affidavit, in a later interview with authorities, the teen said that he had been playing music on his computer and had asked the teacher for help. Paffumi muted his computer twice and the teen said that he’d told the teacher, “Put my s— down cracka.”
The teen said that the teacher had not restricted his airway when he grabbed and lifted him out of the classroom and that he had not been injured in the incident, according to authorities. Although the teen’s father said his son was wrong for the things he’d said, the affidavit stated, he still sought charges against the teacher.
In a news release Wednesday announcing the charge against Paffumi, Sheriff Rick Staly said, “As a teacher you have to control your temper even when students test you. This is an unfortunate incident involving a teacher and a student. … Corporal punishment like the old days is not allowed today.”
Paffumi was booked into the Sheriff Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility where he was held with no bond. He has since been released and is on leave pending the outcome of the probe.
Flagler Schools Superintendent James Tager said in the news release, in part, that “the actions of this teacher are not consistent with how we expect our educators to act and behave and it will not be tolerated.”
“We immediately removed Mr. Paffumi from the classroom following the incident. … I have stressed to my executive team the importance of handling this investigation with the utmost seriousness it deserves,” Tager said. “I also understand a video shows only a portion of a particular incident, so this investigation will encompass the incident in totality and not just what was captured on a camera.”
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