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York man accused of assaulting special needs student at Hannah Penn

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Charles M. Smith

YORK CITY, Pa.–A York man is accused of assaulting a special needs third-grade student at Hannah Penn last month.

Charles M. Smith, 30, is charged with endangering the welfare of children, simple assault and harassment. He was arraigned on April 18. Smith works with the York City School District as a personal care assistant.

The incident happened on March 30 at Hannah Penn located along the 400 block of East Boundary Avenue.

The unidentified 9-year-old special needs student, who has known aggressive tendencies, began acting out after he arrived at school that day, according to the criminal complaint. A teacher who had been working with the student left the classroom to contact his mother to inform her that she would need to come pick him up.

According to court documents, the incident occurred while the teacher was in the office, and Smith was with the student. Two other teachers who were in the classroom witnessed the assault, court documents state.

Smith told police that he was working with the student on cards when the student became aggressive because he wanted to use the computer. Smith said he pushed the student’s hands away from his face when the student grabbed for his glasses, according to the criminal complaint. A teacher who was in the room told police that when the student tried to hit Smith, Smith told the student “No you’re not hitting me anymore.” The student then grabbed the cards and threw them at Smith.

That’s when the teachers witnessed Smith grab the student by the throat and push him up against a blackboard, according to court documents. When one of the teacher yelled at Smith to let the student go, she told police Smith pushed the student’s head down and his head slammed into a nearby table.

The teacher told police that she had witnessed Smith having aggressive tendencies in the past and he goes from zero to ten very quickly.

Smith told police he tried to gain control of the student with restraint techniques he was taught to use and at one point he put the student in a semi-choke hold. Smith then pushed the student away after the other teacher yelled for him to let him go, court documents state.

Smith told investigators he then left the room and went to the school nurses office after the student bit him during the altercation.

FOX43 reached out to Erin James, a spokesperson for the York City School District, who said, “Smith remains an employee with the district, but he is on leave. We will have no further comment as the investigation is ongoing.”

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 13.