FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WPLG/CNN) – A veteran Florida teacher is out of a job after she was accused of choking a student in her classroom.
Ava Williams, a 20-plus-year instructor with the Broward School System, has been fired by the district.
The decision handed down this week by the Broward School Board followed several investigations which had been underway since September, when the incident was first reported.
In a written statement, a Watkins Elementary School student told investigators: “Teacher walked over to me when I pushed in my chair and said, ‘Do you hear me?’ and she choked me. There was no one in the classroom. All the other kids had walked out to the hallway for lunch.”
But another student told a detective with the Broward District Schools’ special investigative unit that he’d witnessed the attack, according to WPLG.
WPLG also reports the boy who said he was choked had allegedly slammed his chair against his desk.
School officials investigated the complaints internally, and with detectives within the district, ultimately contacting the Broward Sheriff’s Office’s Child Protective Investigations Section.
But a detective there determined the allegation was unsubstantiated, so no criminal battery charges would be pursued.
And then a fellow teacher, Shawony Russell, stepped forward, claiming Williams admitted to choking the male student.
The witness told the district that Williams “admitted to Russell that she did choke [the student]. Ms. Russell stated Williams told her if anyone questions her about choking the child, she was going to ask if there were any marks on the child’s neck or if fingerprints had been recovered.”
The case notes show Williams adamantly denied any physical contact with the student and inquired about marks or fingerprints when confronted.
Surveillance video from the school apparently captured the face-to-face conversation between Williams and Russell, but it contained no audio.
This isn’t the first allegation against Williams. In 2013 and 2015, she was accused of twisting a student’s ear and of hitting students on the back of the head.
Williams is reportedly planning to appeal the school board’s decision at the state level.