A substitute teacher from Texas has been fired and charged with aggravated assault after she was caught on video pummeling and stomping on a 15-year-old female high school student with special needs.
Tiffani Shadell Lankford is free on $10,000 bond after her arrest Friday afternoon. If convicted of the second-degree felony, she could be sentenced to two to 20 years in prison.
Cell phone video of last week's incident in a foreign-language class at Lehman High School in Kyle, Texas, went viral.
The students in the class were being loud and the situation escalated when the teacher cursed at them, said Paul Batrice, an attorney for the girl's family. The girl told the teacher not to talk to her that way, he said.
One video shows the teacher striking the student several times on her head before she stomped on the girl's head. Batrice said in a statement the teen is being treated for 'severe injuries.'
In an interview with KVUE, the lawyer revealed that the victim had spent the weekend in a dark room with a brain injury, and will need to see a neurologist and trauma doctor. According to Batrice, the teen also suffered acute post-traumatic anxiety.
'This is unacceptable to say the least, and we will demand justice to the fullest extend of the law to enact the change so obviously necessary,' he said.
In the horrifying footage, the 15-year-old student appears to strike Lankford in the face before the teacher is seen holding the girl down in her seat.
The teacher then HITS the girl at least three times before throwing her to the floor.
The beating continues when the teacher is seen stomping on the sophomore girl's head before yelling at her and walking away.
Other students (pictured in black) are seen in the classroom and several appeared in shock as the incident took place
Other students are seen in the classroom and several appeared in shock as the incident took place.
A student who was present in the classroom told KVUE Lankford was passing out papers and students were laughing. Lankford became frustrated and got into an argument with the victim.
'The student said "shut up" back,' the eyewitness reported. [Lankford] said, "No, you shut up," and the teacher got in the student's face and put her hand on her chest and her other hand on her arm.'
According to the student, the special-needs classmate took a swing at the teacher because she was pressing her. At that point, Lankford removed her glasses, struck the girl three times, pulled her to the floor and stomped on her head.
Lankford, who has a prior offense for a 2014 domestic violence incident in Maryland, was taken to the Hays County Jail, but she posted bond on Saturday.
The superintendent of Hays Consolidated Independent School District said that despite having a past criminal record, Lankford passed a background check.
According to the family's attorney, the student has a special needs 504 Education Plan with the district and suffers from seizures.
Officials from the Hays Consolidated Independent School District shared a statement regarding the incident on Friday.
'As a Hays CISD family, when one of our schools and students is hurting, we all hurt. You may have already seen stories on the news tonight, or the video on social media, about a horrible incident that occurred late this afternoon at Lehman High School.
'It was a traumatic event for the student, her classmates, and the teachers and staff at Lehman High School. Let us all keep the Lobos in our hearts this weekend. I know we all wish our student and her family well as she recovers from this assault,' the statement reads.
According to the district the assault occurred in a foreign language class.
'During the assault, classmates of the 16-year-old girl alerted other adults on campus that the assault was underway.
Authorities removed the teacher from the classroom and she was questioned by school resource officer law enforcement agents, according to the district.
'Under no circumstance is that behavior tolerated at Lehman High School or in Hays CISD,' said Lehman Principal Karen Zuniga.
'We take the safety and security of our students seriously. We took swift action when this incident occurred and will do everything necessary to protect our students,' Zuniga added.
Governor Greg Abbott also weighed in on the classroom attack. 'Conduct like this won't be tolerated in Texas classrooms. The substitute teacher who committed this heinous act has been arrested & will face serious legal consequences,' Abbott tweeted (above)
The incident occurred at the Lehman High School (pictured) in Kyle, Texas
In addition to firing the substitute teacher, the district reported the incident to the Texas Education Agency.
According to the district, the substitute teacher had worked for Hays CISD since August 30, 2019, when she underwent orientation training.
Her first substitute job in a classroom in the district was on September 13, 2019.
She had worked in a classroom in the district a total of 18 times, including Friday.
'We are appalled at the actions of this former employee,' said Tim Savoy, Chief Communication Officer for Hays CISD.
'There is absolutely no excuse or circumstance that can justify what you see unfold on the video. It is unconscionable what this adult did to one of our students.'
Governor Greg Abbott also weighed in on the classroom attack.
'Conduct like this won't be tolerated in Texas classrooms. The substitute teacher who committed this heinous act has been arrested & will face serious legal consequences,' Abbott tweeted.
'The school district will be investigated by the Texas Education Agency.'