DA: No charges against Chipeta teacher

Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger declined to prosecute a School District 51 teacher after investigating claims that the teacher shoved a student to the ground in front of classmates.

Hautzinger on Thursday said a crime couldn’t be proved, and he noted a section of Colorado’s use-of-force statutes that allow teachers to use a reasonable level of force in matters of discipline with students.

“We would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt this was not appropriate (level of force),” Hautzinger said.

The fifth-grade teacher at Chipeta Elementary School remains on paid administrative leave pending the conclusion of District 51’s own investigation, district spokesman Jeff Kirtland said.

The Grand Junction Police Department opened an investigation after responding to the school the afternoon of Jan. 21.

The family of the 11-year-old boy at the center of the dispute alleged the teacher pushed the boy and caused him to fall backward into a bookshelf. They claimed a confrontation with the boy became physical over the boy’s use of an MP3 player in class.

The incident occurred in the classroom and in front of other students, according to the boy’s family.


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