WEST MELBOURNE, Fla. - Channel 9 reporter Lauren Seabrook was told the Brevard County superintendent believes a middle school teacher arrested on battery charges against a student should be fired.
But the Central Middle School teacher is headed back to the classroom because most school board members disagree.
Loud cheers and applause followed the Brevard County school board's tight vote to keep coach Kurt Kaufman employed.
The vote was nearly split down the middle and one board member admitted he changed his mind just 30 minutes before the meeting. He said there's more to the story that can't be discussed because the board is not allowed to publicly talk about students.
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West Melbourne police arrested Kaufman in October on misdemeanor battery charges.
Police said a student was late to class, and when he walked into the room, Kaufman forcefully grabbed the student, picked him up and pushed him into the hallway.
Police said the student had a visible injury to his chest.
"We do not take people's livelihood lightly,” said board member Kayte Campbell. “And I don't believe our staff does, as well."
On Tuesday, the school board voted on a recommendation by the Brevard County superintendent to fire Kaufman.
The superintendent said Kaufman has engaged in similar conduct in the past:
- In January 2016, Kaufman received a written reprimand for putting his hands on a student and physically removing him from the gym.
- Three months later, Kaufman was suspended without pay for two days for throwing a ball and hitting a student.
Two board members felt he should be fired after yet another incident, but three board members disagreed with the superintendent.
"I feel that if we're going to say that Kurt Kaufman has prior charges and prior incidents, that we have to also look at the other student and that's what the court is going to do," said board member Matthew Susin.
Some board members said another form of punishment might be appropriate, but they decided that wasn't up to them.
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