LAFAYETTE, Colo. – A physical education teacher at Angevine Middle School in Lafayette faces child abuse and assault charges over allegations she forcibly made a student stand during the Pledge of Allegiance earlier this month.
Karen Smith, 59, faces one count recklessly causing child abuse with injury, and one count of third-degree assault. She arrived at the Lafayette Police Department shortly after noon Tuesday to be processed, and was released on a criminal summons on the charges.
According to Lafayette police, the investigation into Smith’s alleged actions started Feb. 1, when a student refused to stand for the pledge, “and a teacher forcefully made the student stand by lifting him to his feet by his jacket and removing him from the classroom.”
After an investigation over the past 12 days, police and the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office found that probable cause existed to charge Smith.
According to Denver7’s news partners at the Boulder Daily Camera, it is district policy to allow students to sit or stand during the pledge.
School officials told Denver7 earlier this month that Smith, a 20-year veteran of the Boulder Valley School District, was replaced by a substitute teacher for the time being.
The district issued a statement Tuesday saying it had learned Smith was charged and that she was on paid leave. The statement reads as follows:
"Today we learned that the Boulder County District Attorney’s office has formally charged Angevine Middle School Physical Education Teacher Karen Smith. Ms. Smith has served Boulder Valley School District for 20 years and is currently on paid administrative leave.
"We are cooperating with the District Attorney’s Office and respect their decision on this matter. We are unable to comment further because it remains a personnel matter that the school district is actively investigating."
There was also a letter sent home to Angevine Middle School parents Tuesday:
Dear Angevine Middle School Families,
I want to provide you with an update regarding the investigation that we shared with our school community a couple weeks ago. Today we learned that the Boulder District Attorney’s Office has formally charged Angevine Middle School Physical Education Teacher Karen Smith.
Below is a statement released by the Lafayette Police Department this afternoon:
LAFAYETTE POLICE DEPARTMENT NEWS RELEASE
Child Abuse/Assault - 20180338
On February 01, 2018 the Lafayette Police Department began investigating an allegation of assault by a teacher at Angevine Middle School located at 1150 West South Boulder Road, Lafayette, Colorado [maps.google.com]. It was reported a juvenile student refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and a teacher forcefully made the student stand by lifting him to his feet by his jacket and removing him from the classroom.
After a thorough investigation into the incident, the Lafayette Police Department consulted with the Boulder District Attorney’s Office and determined probable cause exists to charge the teacher identified as Karen Smith (030158) with the following charges; 18-6- 401 Child Abuse, recklessly with injury and 18-3- 204 Assault in the Third Degree.
On February 13, 2018 at approximately 1220 hours Karen Smith arrived at the Lafayette Police Department where she was processed and released with a summons for the above listed charges.
This case has been forwarded to the Boulder District Attorney’s Office.
Angevine and the Boulder Valley School District are cooperating with the District Attorney’s Office and respect their decision on this matter. While we are unable to share more because it is a legal and personnel matter that the school district is actively investigating, I, again, want to reaffirm that our focus remains firmly on our students.
As you may know we have found an excellent long-term substitute to support our students in PE, along with Mr. Atencio, through the end of the year. Genevieve Aragon has subbed at Angevine and other BVSD schools previously and has already been working with our students in Ms. Smith’s absence. So far, I’ve received very positive reports from students and staff alike.
Thank you to all of your for your support and patience during this time.
Angevine Middle School