updated 2/16/2007 3:25:35 PM ET 2007-02-16T20:25:35

A first-grade teacher was placed on leave after she allegedly hit and kicked fifth-graders who ran through her class during physical education, school officials said.

Ten-year-old Lauren Lopez said she and her classmates at Meller Elementary School were told by another teacher to run laps Thursday morning, and as they ran by the first-grade teacher's class she "just started tripping and kicking kids."

The girl said she and 11 other classmates had bruises and scratches. Pupils also said the teacher urged her first-graders to fight with the older children.

Officials said all of the pupils' injuries were minor and counselors would be made available.

The teacher, whom officials did not identify, was placed on leave while the sheriff's department investigates, said Norbert Genis, superintendent of the El Rancho Unified School District.

Some parents said they were angry that they weren't told about the incident until hours afterward.

"They questioned the kids without us being here. They took pictures without us being here," said Priscilla Garcia, mother of 10-year-old Christina Garcia, who said she was kicked in the leg.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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