Teacher Accused Of Striking Student Appears In Court

The trial for a former Benton County teacher accused of striking a student last year began Tuesday (Oct. 15) in Bentonville.

Pamela H. Nelson is charged with misdemeanor third-degree battery or harassment, according to the Benton County Circuit clerk.

That is a reduced charge from the felony charge of second-degree battery that the prosecutor previously filed against her, records show.

Nelson has denied hitting the student.

“I would never strike a child. I’ve been a teacher for over 30 years,” she said. “I have children, and I would never strike a child.”

In an effort to raise money for Nelson’s legal defense, a student designed T-shirts, pictured here, that are selling for $15 each, she said. (See the video above for Jocelyne’s interview with the student.)

Nelson’s jury trial had been scheduled to begin July 9 but was pushed back because three child-rape trials that week had priority, officials said.

The jury trial is scheduled to be held in the Division 2 courtroom of Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren.

At an arraignment on Nov. 13, Nelson, 58, pleaded not guilty to striking a student on Oct. 1 at the Benton County School of the Arts in Rogers while she was a middle school choir and computer keyboarding teacher there, officials said. Not guilty pleas are standard at arraignments to allow the case to proceed in the legal system.

Nelson was arrested in October 2012 and was fired from the school after a 12-year-old male student said she hit him on the back. She was released from the Benton County Jail on a $5,000 bond on Oct. 3, 2012, one day after being booked into jail, records show.

The school board’s decision in early October to fire Nelson, who was making $33,000 annually in her first year teaching at that school, came at the recommendation of Superintendent Paul Hines.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed Oct. 3, 2012, Nelson and the school’s principal, Julia Rice, had warned a computer keyboarding class to quiet down. After the principal left, the 12-year-old student told a friend to stop playing a game on the computer or they would get in trouble.

At that point, Nelson appeared behind the 12-year-old student and struck him on the upper left side of his back, the affidavit states.  His friend said, “She just hit you.”

A few moments later, the student asked to go to the principal’s office and called his mother, the affidavit states. The boy’s mother then called the principal, who confirmed the student had a raised red hand print on his back, the court document states.

About seven hours after the incident, a police officer who had seen an earlier photograph of the red mark looked at the 12-year-old student’s back and noticed the mark had faded but was still barely visible, the affidavit states.

12 comments

  • Mick Mccartney

    Yeah, thats the way to educate kids, i mean you the DA. You make it hard to be a parent and hard to be a teacher. Kids rule. Perhaps in the trial they can show pics of swelling and blood coming from the hit in the back. And it was a felony at first? You send a real message DA, one you really don’t want to if you were mature.

  • hogfan

    This teacher’s career is over whether she is innocent or guilty. Wow, a 30 year career down the drain. Now you all know that children NEVER lie, so the teacher definitely must be the liar…yeah right.

  • Peggie McGuire

    Were there welts or marks on the student’s back? Was there a witness? Did the child scream out in pain? I think the school and the DA are making a mountain out of a molehill. I don’t think the teachers get the respect they deserve from the District or the individual schools.Looks like some people are ganging up on this lady. I don’t know her but at the age of 78, I’ve know a lot of teachers. I feel so bad for her. Shame on you!!!!

  • concerned parent

    She did strike the child, she also took a black marker and wrote an X across another child’s mouth, she pulled hair at the nape of neck on several other students, she also squeezed the back of their necks and screamed shut up in their ears. If this is someone who you would want to teacher your child. Feel free to hire her. Children were scared of her and her moods. And if you would have seen her rap sheet, you might not jump so quickly to her side. 30 years of teaching piano doesn’t qualify a person as qualified to teach and manage children. If the school would have don’t a background check on her, then they wouldn’t have hired her.

    • hogfan

      All teachers are required to undergo a background check prior to teaching. They were not grandfathered in when this law went into effect, so the teacher definitely had a background check done on her at some time during her teaching career. Even when you leave one school district and begin teaching in another you have to submit to another new background check.

  • Mick Mccartney

    Oh, I see, it took a boy next to him to tell him that , Hey you just got hit in the back. But then there was a red hand print. Hum, shouldn’t the boy know he was hit and not have to be told.

  • Informed

    Maybe you need to work on your reading comprehensive skills if that is what you took away from this story Mr. McKinney

  • JR Gibbs

    I don’t have an ax to grind in this at all, unlike Informed, whom changed their screen name from “Concerned Parent: does. I will let the jury decide and not someone that trolls the internet with different screen names.

Comments are closed.

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