Substitute teacher accused of hitting, choking third-grade students

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo - Parents in Independence say their third-graders were hit and choked by their substitute teacher on Friday.

Now their kids say they're afraid to go back to school.

Officials with the Independence School District confirm that the unidentified substitute was asked to leave Spring Branch Elementary on Friday after a nine-year-old ran from his class, saying he had been choked. Officials would only add at that this is an ongoing investigation at this point.

FOX 4 talked to the nine-year-old on Saturday. He says the substitute started attacking him as he was taking a spelling quiz.

"It was hurting me," said the visibly shaken third grader, whose identity is being kept private. "He hit me with a piece of paper, then with his hand, then with his fist. Right after that he choked me."

The boy says he started crying and the substitute finally let go.

Parents allege that a total of eight kids were attacked in the classroom. Nichole Knowles' son says there are marks on her son's face.

"My son was speaking to another student and he swatted him in the face and told him to pay attention," said Knowles.

After being choked, the nine-year-old asked to go to the bathroom and ran to tell a teacher that, "he was hitting us all."

The 3rd grader was taken to the hospital—and now his dad worries this is the only memory he'll have.

"It makes me sad, mad, all the above. He's gonna have to remember his ninth  birthday the rest of his life...that he was beat at school by my teacher then I spent the day at the hospital," parent Travis Tomnitz said.

The district says as soon as they found out the teacher was told to leave the property.

"We take our students safety very seriously. We're taking these allegations very seriously. We want to know what happened as well," said district spokesperson Jana Corrie.

But parents say that's not enough. They want charges filed against the teacher and say they won't stop until he's punished for his actions.

"This guy was a coward picking on little kids," Tomnitz said.

"I wanna know for sure that I do my part to make sure this man never makes it into a classroom again," Knowles said.

The district says the sub is not allowed on school property until the investigation is over.​

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