The teacher has been on leave since the incident last month.
Eric Dennis Kauffman, 48, of New Ulm, was charged with gross misdemeanor malicious punishment of a child, misdemeanor assault and misdemeanor disorderly conduct Thursday in Brown County District Court.
Three students reported Kauffman got upset with two other students during a physical education class in the school weight room on Oct. 14, according to a court complaint.
The witnesses told the principal and school resource officer that one student wasn’t doing a weight-lifting exercise correctly. Kauffman reportedly said something to the effect of “don’t piss me off today” and grabbed the student’s arms and made her do the exercise.
Kauffman then began to yell at another girl who was resting on a bench, the witnesses reported. He allegedly shook the bench, causing the girl to fall off. He allegedly then picked the fallen girl up by the ankles.
When the school resource officer interviewed the girl, she gave a substantially similar account, though she said she fell off the bench as she tried to get away from Kauffman. She added that Kauffman followed her after she got up and began to walk away. She was not injured, she said.
The officer reviewed surveillance video and in the court complaint the officer described seeing Kauffman get near the girl’s face as the girl was “cowering away and clearly uncomfortable.” The girl fell and Kauffman grabbed her ankles and picked her up, the video reportedly confirmed. Kauffman then followed her until she walked to a group of other students.
Kauffman was placed on paid administrative leave Oct. 15 pending investigation, New Ulm Schools Supt. Jeff Bertrang told The Free Press. The school district’s investigation is ongoing, Bertrang said.