DEERFIELD BEACH – A Deerfield Beach Middle School physical education teacher has been sent home, indefinitely, after school officials determined that he hit a student in the face with a school-issued radio.
The incident happened Thursday as physical education teacher Nelson Smalls heard students hiding and playing behind lockers during a gym class.
According to statements taken from the three students involved, Smalls pushed one student aside, and then swatted his radio at another as the student came from behind the lockers. When Smalls swatted the radio, it struck Hezekiah Jones Jr., 12, on his face in the area around one of his eyes, according to the school's principal and the boy's parents.
None of the students suffered any visible injuries, but school officials are investigating the incident. The Broward School District’s policies prohibit physical punishment.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office, which patrols Deerfield Beach, is not investigating the incident, a BSO spokeswoman said.
“As far as what we know, he moved another student aside, and then the other student raised his hand towards [Smalls], from behind some lockers, and he reacted by swatting at what turned out to be the student’s arm,” school principal Vincent Alessi said.
After speaking to the students and Smalls, school officials determined that the teacher would be sent home pending the outcome of a school investigation.
“He’s been here for a while and I’m not exactly sure how long, but he was a guidance counselor, and is now a physical education teacher,” Alessi said.
“We took statements and he has been sent home as we look into this, and I don’t expect him back today or tomorrow. Then we will be off for the Christmas holiday, so there is no way to say how long he will be out,” Alessi said on Thursday.
Hezekiah’s father, Hezekiah Jones, said all of the students involved – including his son – are sixth graders.
“They called me to the school and when I got there, my son said his eye hurt a little, but he didn’t have any swelling and did not want to leave school, so I allowed him to finish out the day,” confirmed the elder Hezekiah Jones. “There is no excuse for hitting a child with a radio, even if he didn’t get hurt.”
The child’s mother, Nikki Farrish, said she is waiting for the completion of the investigation before reaching any final conclusions.
“They didn’t come out when they were asked, and then they began cracking jokes,’’ Farrish said. “The teacher pushed one student out of the way, and hit my son in the eye with the antenna. They told us he said he was surprised and was reacting to my son’s arm coming from behind the locker.”
Farrish continued: “If it was an accident, then I can understand it, but if it wasn’t, then I expect it to be fully addressed, because all of the students said they thought it was intentional.”
Pictured above is Hezekiah Jones Jr.