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Kansas teacher Crystal Smith, caught on camera kicking 5-year-old for 'hiding' behind bookshelf, avoids jail

Crystal Smith was initially handed a 30-day jail term after pleading guilty to misdemeanor battery but a jury later granted her a year of probation
UPDATED DEC 15, 2020
(Johnson County Sheriff's Office)
(Johnson County Sheriff's Office)

A former Kansas teacher has been sentenced to a year of probation after she was caught on surveillance cameras kicking a five-year-old kindergarten student in the school library. Online court records show that 55-year-old Crystal Smith was initially handed a 30-day jail term after pleading guilty to misdemeanor battery at a video hearing last Thursday in Johnson County District Court. However, a jury granted her probation instead and ordered her to attend anger management classes, KCTV reported.

The February 2019 incident -- which occurred after the rest of the class had left the library -- was captured by a security camera at the Bluejacket-Flint Elementary School in Shawnee, Kansas. The video shows how the girl had managed to crawl into a bookshelf opening, before Smith yanked her out and kicked her as she lay curled up on the floor.


The five-year-old eventually stood up and walked out of the library behind the teacher. According to a federal civil lawsuit filed against the school, school officials did not inform the student's mother about what happened and she only learned of the incident when the girl told her while being picked up from school.

The mother had reportedly asked the child how her day was when the girl said she didn't like her teacher. "I don't like my teacher. She's really mean. She hit me on my arm," the youngster said, and that's when her mother noticed a large red mark on her arm.

The mother immediately went to the school to find out what really happened, but when she confronted the teacher, Smith reportedly denied harming the student and instead blamed the girl for the red marks on her body. The parent, unsatisfied with the response, demanded school officials to investigate the incident and recover security footage for review.

The little girl is seen in the video reportedly refusing to get in line with her classmates and crawling into a bookshelf. Smith returns after the class has left the library, only to find the girl hiding behind the bookshelf. Enraged, the teacher grabs the child by her arm, drags her to the ground, and lands a vicious kick in the back and the kid lays huddled on the ground.

"She is really young so it's pretty devastating to her," family attorney Dan Zmijewski said of the kindergarten student, noting how the school didn't take action until the mother came to school to find out what had occurred. "At first, she was completely, totally terrified of schools and libraries because it happened in the library ... that is, unfortunately, one of the safest places you think you can go as a child," he said. "It required her to get therapy as a result of all this."

Smith was placed on administrative leave pending investigation and officially fired a month after the incident, according to the report. Meanwhile, the student's mother has filed a federal lawsuit against Smith and the school district, claiming civil rights violations and negligence. The suit is currently making its way through the courts, the report added.