9 Investigates: Teacher accused of assaulting special needs student reinstated



MARION COUNTY, Fla. - Channel 9 obtained video that shows a teacher assaulting a 10-year-old special needs student.

The superintendent recommended the teacher be fired, but the Marion County School Board voted to keep her after a hearing.

Channel 9's Daralene Jones got a copy of the video, and she learned there is now a new investigation and the teacher could lose her license.

In the video, you cannot hear what’s being said, but Jones watched the video in its entirety and for more than an hour, Tracey Newton can be seen getting physical with a 10-year-old autistic student who just had been assigned to her class.

The video shows Newton snatching the boy from his desk by his jacket, and several times, she grabs him by the wrist and slams him to the floor, sometimes holding her shoe or a yardstick as if she's going to use it.

“Her goal was to break him, was to let him know that she was in charge in her classroom,” the child’s mother, Uvonda Hill, told Jones. “She told that to the assistant principal that day.”

The video shows Newton dragging the 10-year-old by the arm and the neck, clear violations of school district policies.

The boy's mother agreed to speak with Channel 9 after she learned Newton got her job back.

“What happened to Brian is done. I worry about something happening to someone else's child,” Hill explained.

Marion school board members voted to reinstate Newton after the superintendent first suspended, then fired her.

She received $16,175.10 in back pay.

But Jones learned the superintendent just placed Newton on "paid leave" after the state Department of Education opened a new case. The state is now determining whether she can keep her teaching certificate.

“That child was not safe in that environment,” said Marion County Superintendent George Tomyn. “That teacher didn't use the appropriate strategies that she had been trained to use with that type of child.”

He said stripping Newton of her teaching certificate is the only way he can keep her out of the classroom despite the video proving policies weren't followed.

“In this case, was common sense used?” Jones asked the superintendent.

“I'm not going to pass judgment on common sense that was used,” Tomyn responded. “I stand by my recommendation.”

After trying to reach Newton over the phone, Jones went to her Ocala home and no one answered. But Jones learned a day care was operating out of the same residence.

Calls and emails to Newton’s attorney, so far, have been ignored.

Hill said her mission now is bigger than keeping Newton out of the classroom.

“My goal is that they don't get re-elected because obviously they don't have our children's best interest at heart,” Hill said.

The family is also preparing a lawsuit against the district, saying they're doing it reluctantly because the superintendent tried to, in their words, “Do the right thing.”

School board members 9 Investigates reached said they don't regret the decision to re-instate Newton.

Jones checked Newton’s personnel file and found she has no other disciplinary history, working several years as a special education teacher.