A teacher in Texas who was arrested for slapping a five-year-old student on Monday was already charged with harming children at her previous place of employment.
Olga S. Najera was detained in El Paso, Texas, for an injury to a child charge, according to local police.
‘She is a wonderful teacher who is very well liked by parents and loved by her students,’ Najera’s lawyer Mary Stillinger told the El Paso Times.
‘Before this first arrest, she never had any issues for many years. I think she is completely innocent of this.’
An investigation by police found that Najera allegedly hit a ‘student with an open hand,’ while teaching at Helen Ball Elementary School between July 31 and August 28.
The teacher had been placed on administrative leave from the Socorro Independent School District because she had been arrested for similar incidents.
‘This new allegation is, to my understanding, it came up after the reports of her first arrest,’ Stillinger said.
‘Unfortunately, sometimes there is an aspect of hysteria when people think something is happening and they jump to conclusions.’
Allegations that the bilingual teacher had bothered children, while working at El Paso’s Myrtle Cooper Elementary School, surfaced last year.
While she was cleared by the district and returned to work, the case was turned over to the police.
Then, Najera was indicted on two counts of injury to a child on August 9 and was arrested at the school. The 52-year-old was booked into the El Paso County Jail on a $15,000 bond.
In the indictment, the teacher is accused of slapping, pinching and stepping on children from August 1 to August 16.
She is accused of pinching a boy’s arm and scratching his hands, according to the indictment.
Najera was said to have also slapped a girl in the face, stepped on the girl’s foot and kicked her.
After the first arrest, the teacher was released from jail on bond.
‘When dealing with very young children you have to be sure what the facts are because we all know very young children do not always describe things as clearly as adults,’ Stillinger said.
‘When there is no physical evidence, I think the Police Department is making a very serious mistake by moving so quickly on this.
‘The allegations at the prior school had been investigated thoroughly by the school and had been found without merit.’
The August case is scheduled to go to trial in April.