The attention of the nation turned to Kyle over the weekend in the wake of an alleged assault by a substitute teacher that sent a 16-year-old special needs student to the hospital.
Tiffani Lankford, 32, who was substituting in a Spanish class at Lehman High School on Friday, Nov, 8, was fired by the Hays CISD later that day.
She was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second degree felony, and jailed under a $10,000 personal recognizance bond. Langford was released from custody on Saturday.
The student was taken to the hospital by her father for evaluation, and was said by her family’s attorney to have suffered “severe” injuries. The assault, as captured in the classroom by cell phone video, showed the student seated at her desk with her back to the wall as Lankford punched her several times, threw her to the ground and then appeared to stomp on her head. Lt. Dennis Gutierrez of the Hays County Sheriff’s Office said that Lankford’s use of her foot constituted a “deadly weapon.”
“We are shocked and disgusted after seeing the abuse and excessive force used in this teacher’s attempt to discipline a special needs child. There is no excuse for this type of behavior,” attorney Paul Batrice issued in a statement late Friday.
Batrice alluded to an “alleged criminal history of domestic violence,” but the district says Lankford passed FBI and DPS background checks. He said he has “started an investigation into this teacher and Hays CISD in the hopes of ensuring justice for this family and so that no Texas student has to ever endure such extreme behavior again.”
“Under no circumstances is that behavior tolerated at Lehman High School or in the Hays CISD,” Lehman Principal Karen Zuniga said. “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.”
“We are appalled at the actions of this former employee,” Hays CISD Chief Communications Officer Tim Savoy said. “There is absolutely no excuse or circumstance that can justify what you see unfold in the video. It is unconscionable what this adult did to one of our students.”
In addition to firing Lankford, the district reported the incident to the Texas Education Agency and is committed to cooperating with the Hays County Sheriff’s Office.
Gutierrez said there were two School Resource Officers on campus at Lehman High School at the time of the attack. The school district said Lankford was questioned by them after her “immediate” removal form the classroom.
Lankford had worked for the district since Aug. 30, when she began orientation training. Her first time in a classroom was Sept. 13 and she had worked in a classroom a total of 18 times, including the day the assault occurred.
“All substitute teachers in Hays CISD, including this former substitute, are required to undergo and pass fingerprint criminal background checks,” a district official said.
The student, whose name was not released, was a member of the Lehman girls basketball team, which won its match against LBJ High School Friday night. The injured girl did not play, and a team said that the win was in her honor.
Lankford, a resident of San Marcos, had no prior criminal history in Hays County. According to her Facebook page, she attended high school in Cuero.