A Bibb County elementary school teacher is in jail, charged with beating a student's mother in front of 19 fourth-grade students.
Katrina Ann Rucker, 30, is charged with battery and cruelty to children after the assault at Bruce-Weir Elementary School about 8:50 a.m. Thursday. Rucker was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, school officials said.
The parent, Lurella Amica, suffered a fractured nose, a possible broken bone near her eye and numerous bruises, Macon police spokeswoman Melanie Hofmann said.
Amica was in stable condition in the emergency room of The Medical Center of Central Georgia late Thursday night.
Bibb County Campus Police initially responded to the school but, citing a conflict of interest, called Macon police to handle the investigation.
Amica told police the fight was over her daughter's book bag, according to the police report.
In an interview with police, Amica said she went to the school to deliver a note to her daughter, 9-year-old Valentine Swarn. At the classroom door, the girl told her mother that Rucker had thrown her bag in the trash can, the report stated.
Amica entered the classroom and tried to retrieve the book bag, but Rucker grabbed for it and the two struggled, the report stated.
After Amica wrestled the bag away, Rucker picked up a chair and hit her in the back, knocking Amica to the floor, according to the report. Rucker then began punching Amica in the face and body.
During the fight, Swarn was crying for her teacher to stop hitting her mother and ran up to them, the report stated. Rucker then hit the child, pulled her hair and pushed her out of the way before starting to strike the mother again, Amica told police.
Rucker dragged Amica by the hair outside the classroom, according to the report.
"A school administrator and another teacher had to pull the teacher off the mother," Hofmann said.
In Rucker's account of the story, she said Amica hit her hand during the initial struggle, Hofmann said.
"The teacher said she was defending herself because she gets a shot in that hand and it hurt," Hofmann said.
Rucker was in her first year in Bibb schools, said Ralph Warren, assistant superintendent for human resources.
"This stands out as an unusual event for me," Warren said.
He declined to say where she had been employed previously.
Principal Karen Konke, reached at home Thursday evening, declined comment and referred questions to Sylvia McGee, the system's deputy superintendent.
McGee said school staff called the parent or guardian of each child in the class. Social workers counseled students individually and as a group, and only Swarn left school early.
Konke sent letters to parents informing them of the confrontation and the arrest.
"Let me assure you the school is safe and that our students have been involved in appropriate instructional activities throughout the day," Konke said in the letter.
McGee said Macon police, not Bibb County campus police, arrested the teacher because "when there's a situation, especially involving one of our own, we tend to have external" authorities make the arrest.
The criminal investigation will take precedence over the inquiry conducted by school officials, McGee said.
"Then we'll come right behind with the administrative part," McGee said.
To contact Liz Fabian, call 744-4303 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Se related: Corporal Punishment Guidelines for Elementary School, Bibb County, Ga.
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