Florida preschool teacher accused of repeatedly punching a 4-year-old boy

DUNEDIN, Fla. — A Florida preschool teacher was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly punching a 4-year-old repeatedly in the head.

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According to WFTS, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office was called to a preschool in Dunedin, Florida before 1 p.m. on Wednesday after reports from a witness who said she heard screaming coming from the playground and witnessed Ashley Richards, 32, allegedly punching a toddler.

According to an arrest report from PCSO obtained by WFLA, the witness allegedly saw Richards “repeatedly punching him with both an open hand and a closed fist in the back of the head and the side of the head.” The witness also told PCSO that she allegedly saw Richards push the boy to the ground. The witness also happened to capture the incident on video on her cellphone, to WFLA.

PCSO deputies interviewed the boy who told them that he had gotten in trouble and Richards was punishing him for fighting with his brother. Richards allegedly told the deputies that she put her hand over the boy’s mouth because he was laughing at her but denied hitting him, according to WFLA. She allegedly also told deputies that she was consoling the boy.

Richards started working at the preschool in March 2021 and has been on administrative leave since the incident, according to WFTS. She was arrested on Wednesday for child abuse.

No further information has been released.