EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. — A current Excelsior Springs School District staff member is under criminal investigation for allegations of abuse against elementary school children.

The school district is standing by that employee even though the allegations are serious in nature. They include excessive physical force and spraying at least one elementary student with apple cider vinegar.

“I would be concerned if I knew that these allegations were made and that the person against whom they were made was still in the building with my kids,” said Sarah Boyd of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office characterized the allegations as abuse stemming from an incident back in early April.

“Whenever there’s a case of potential physical abuse of a child, particularly in a school setting, we take that very seriously,” Boyd said.

In a statement to FOX4, Deputy Superintendent Dr. Jaret Tomlinson said, in part:

“The district’s investigation determined that the allegations were unsupported and the district staff member has been restored to full duties.”

“I am not aware of a school district closing an investigation before a criminal investigation is complete,” Boyd said.

The Clay County Sherriff’s Office is taking over the investigation due to a conflict of interest the Excelsior Springs Police Department said it has. The sheriff’s office said it has already interviewed more than a dozen witnesses.

“We’re committed to finding justice in this situation, and whether that is prosecuting somebody or exonerating somebody,” Boyd said.

Boyd said in her years of experience, it’s not often that such incidents rise to the criminal level, unless those claims carry weight.

“The allegations being made are of course very disturbing because you want your children to be safe at school,” Boyd said.

The sheriff’s office said it is disappointed in the communication sent out by the Excelsior Springs School District in regard to this case.

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