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Teacher caught on video kicking 5-year-old could face criminal charges

"Had I not pushed to find information on my own, the safety of all those students could still be at risk," the girl's mother said.
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A Kansas elementary school teacher who was seen in a surveillance video kicking a 5-year-old student could face criminal charges.

The second-year teacher, identified by a spokesman for the Shawnee Mission School District as Crystal Smith, was fired a month after the Feb. 21 incident at Bluejacket-Flint Elementary School in Shawnee, a suburb of Kansas City.

A district spokesman confirmed Wednesday to NBC News that Smith kicked the student.

The video shows the 5-year-old lying in a bookshelf in the library. Smith yanks the girl out of the shelf and walks away. She returns and kicks the child in the back out of sight of another adult in the room.

School officials found the surveillance footage after the girl’s mother complained the day of the incident.

The woman, who did not want to be identified, said she discovered red marks on her daughter’s arm and the girl said her teacher hit her.

Smith was immediately put on administrative leave and was fired March 25, a district spokesman told NBC News.

The Johnson County District Attorney's Office said it is reviewing the criminal case but declined to comment further.

The girl's mother said that she is "deeply disturbed" by how her daughter was treated and that it has caused long-lasting effects.

"As a parent, I trusted the school with my daughter's safety, and had I not pushed to find information on my own, the safety of all those students could still be at risk," she said. "No other family should have to experience this, and I hope school officials take meaningful action to prevent and respond to future incidents.”

Dan Zmijewski, an attorney for the girl's parents, said the family is pursuing a civil suit.

"When parents send their children to school, they have a reasonable expectation that they will be safe, and the schools have a legal duty to maintain their safety," Zmijewski said.