Teacher facing charges for allegedly assaulting student
A teacher in Hesperia is facing charges after allegedly assaulting a student.
Doug Baird will be charged with two counts of assault and battery after an incident in April.
WOOD-TV reports Anna Mack, 14, was in gym class when the class was discussing football penalties. Mack says she asked what a horse collar penalty was.
Mack said Baird then grabbed her by the back of her hooded sweatshirt and dragged her two to three feet.
"All of a sudden, he came up behind me and he yanked me hard. And it hurt," Mack told WOOD-TV. "I was like, 'Stop,' and shoved him away. He came back around and yanked me again."
WOOD-TV reports Newaygo County authorities have a video of the incident, but are not releasing it to the media. They say deputies said they saw the video and say Mack's description is "fairly accurate."
The victim's parents said Mack, who is a freshman, has been bullied since the alleged incident happened in April to the point where they have pulled her out of school. They are now asked for Baird to be fired.
"My daughter was assaulted by a teacher. A male teacher. A wrestling coach," said the father, John Cunningham. "That don't (sic) fly in my book. I want justice. He don't (sic) need to be a teacher in this school. He needs to be prosecuted."
Baird denies that the incident happened, and his attorney said he has yet to be formally charged.
"We intend to vigorously defend against the charges," read a statement provided to WOOD-TV by the attorney Phil Iorio. "My client has not yet been formally presented with any charges from the Newaygo County Prosecutor's Office. There is more to this story than just these charges, so people should not rush to judgment."
A student that was also in the class at the time of the incident said while it happened, it was not as extreme as Mack has described.
"Mr. Baird went behind her and said 'Well, this is what a horse collar is.' And grabbed the back of the shirt and just tugged lightly," Hayley Flanery told WOOD-TV. "Seeing it then hearing that she was hurt by it and that she had abrasions on her neck, I was like, 'It definitely did not happen like that."
Baird has been placed on paid administrative leave while the investigation continues. The school is also holding an investigation into the situation.
WOOD-TV reports Baird was removed as a wrestling coach last year after incidents involving the supervision of students came to the attention of administrators.
In one of the incidents, parents said students had been smoking marijuana outside of their hotel room after being left unsupervised during an overnight trip.
Some parents have been supporters of Baird's, however, with the decision to remove him prompting recall efforts against some members of the school board.