Ex-teacher guilty of telling students to hit bully

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A former San Antonio teacher accused of directing students to hit a schoolmate for being a bully has been convicted of official oppression.

Cynthia Ambrose, 44, was accused of telling her students at Salinas Elementary School to line up and hit a 6-year-old boy so he knows “how it feels to be bullied.” She faces up to a year in jail after jurors convicted her Thursday, the San Antonio Express-News reported (http://bit.ly/1aA3luO).

The May 2012 incident occurred when the boy was brought to Ambrose by his teacher, Barbara Ramirez, after he hit another student. The boy, now 7, told the jury this week he remembers getting hit by students and later telling his brothers, but they didn’t believe him.

“It started out as a pat,” Ramirez said. “Then she told the class, ‘Come on, hit him harder.’”

Ramirez was granted immunity in exchange for her testimony. She said she reported the incident to the school principal two weeks later.

“I’ve never heard of anything like this in my 30 years,” Salinas Elementary School Principal Jeffrey Large said. “I’ve heard of teachers using excessive force, but never putting students against other students.”

Prosecutor Patrick Ballantyne said in court Thursday that the incident was “so far outside the bounds of classroom discipline to where it becomes criminal.”

Ambrose’s lawyer, James Scott Sullivan, questioned Ramirez’s statements during closing arguments, saying her testimony was dubious.

Ambrose is scheduled to be sentenced July 29.

Sullivan said he will pursue probation for Ambrose, who said she was already “convicted” by the media when the episode first came to light.


Information from: San Antonio Express-News, http://www.mysanantonio.com

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