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SLO DA won’t file criminal charges against Mesa Middle School teacher for alleged child abuse of student


SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif.– The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office announced Wednesday that Mesa Middle School teacher Sara Watts will not be charged for the Apr. 25 alleged child abuse of a 13-year-old student.

Watts was arrested by San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Deputies following an incident where Watts allegedly came over to the student during class and pulled a hairbrush from the girl's hand, resulting in scratches on the hand of the student, as well as, threw papers at the same student causing a scratch to the student's temple.

The SLO DA determined the force used by Watts was within the legal force allowed under California Education Code section 44807.

"A comprehensive review of all the available evidence supports that the actions of Ms. Watts in removing the hairbrush from the student’s hand was of the same degree of physical force or control that a parent would be legally privileged to exercise under the circumstances.  It is apparent that several students in the classroom were unruly and this specific student’s brushing of their hair was disrupting the teacher’s ability to maintain a proper and appropriate environment conducive to learning."

The SLO DA also determined the injuries sustained by the student were not of a criminal nature, were not enacted with malicious intention, and could have been accidental.

"Regarding the injuries alleged to have occurred during the hairbrush incident, they are very minimal and if they did occur during the incident are consistent with an accidental scratching during the removal of the hairbrush as described by Ms. Watts.

The allegation that Ms. Watts dropped or threw paperwork in the direction of the student resulting in a paper cut to her temple likewise does not warrant filing of criminal charges.  The investigation substantiates that Ms. Watts did not intend the paperwork to hit the student when it was either dropped or thrown.  The student themself stated that they did not believe Ms. Watts intended to injure them during the incident. Other students present in the classroom corroborated this description. Further, the minimal scratch observed in the photos of the student appeared to be superficial."

Watts' conduct is still up for review by the school and district administration.

Read the full update from the DA's Office here.

Article Topic Follows: San Luis Obispo County
Santa Barbara

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Drew Ascione

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