Teacher's aide accused of throwing child against wall

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LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - A Lake County teacher's aide was arrested after she was accused of throwing a special needs student against a wall.

Another aide, the teacher and several students were in the classroom at Pine Ridge Elementary when Jacqueline Zuniga is alleged to have thrown the child against the wall. The teacher told authorities she heard the thud when the child hit the wall.

Zuniga wasn't home when Channel 9's Kenneth Craig stopped by her Clermont house Friday evening.

Zuniga's neighbors were surprised when Craig told them of the violent things Zuniga is accused of doing.

"She seemed to be pretty friendly. Doesn't seem to be any kind of anger problem," said neighbor Pedro Cintron.

Lake County deputies tell a much different story about how the aide behaved inside the classroom at Pine Ridge Elementary.

"This was obviously an easy case for the school district and the school because we had so many eyewitnesses in there," said Chris Patton of Lake County Public Schools.

Authorities said Zuniga became enraged because the little boy was hitting and pinching her.

According to investigators, that's when she said, "You hit me, I hit you back," and grabbed the boy by his arms and legs and flung him 5 feet into a wall.

Authorities said the boy lay on the ground motionless for about 30 seconds.

The aide has been out of the classroom since that day and is now suspended without pay.

"That's never the appropriate action no matter what kind of student, even another adult, you would never take that kind of action against another human being," said Patton.

Craig learned Zuniga has never been in trouble with the district before and has been at the school for about 2½ years.