A mother has been charged with three counts of assault after she allegedly slapped a 7-year-old girl in the face and pushed two Sumter School District teachers at her daughter's elementary school on Wednesday.
Cheneathia Caesar, 29, reportedly approached the 7-year-old sometime after 7:30 a.m. at Kingsbury Elementary School off Lewis Road after hearing she threw pencils at her 8-year-old daughter the day before, according to Tonyia McGirt, public information officer for the Sumter Police Department.
An incident report states multiple members of school staff — at least four teachers and one assistant principal — witnessed the incident.
The assistant principal said she heard Caesar yelling at the 7-year-old and telling her own daughter to hit the victim, according to the report. She then saw teachers try to intervene before the child was slapped on the right side of her face.
Two teachers attempted to keep Caesar from the child, but one was grabbed by the arm and pushed away and the other was pushed to the ground.
An off-duty officer then detained Caesar who said she came to the elementary school to stand up for her daughter who had been bullied the day before.
A third teacher said Caesar approached her before the incident in reference to bullying but refused to speak with administrators about the issue.
"I never received a complaint from the teacher about her messing with other children," said Rhondisa Blanding, the mother of the 7-year-old.
She said her daughter was given a referral last Friday for yelling during a test after a student allegedly took her pencil.
Blanding said her daughter denied throwing pencils at Caesar's daughter, and her daughter's teacher said she only heard the 7-year-old yelling during the test.
Why would Caesar choose to hit a child and not speak with a teacher if her daughter was having problems, she asked.
Blanding said her daughter did not return to school on Thursday because she was scared. This happened in front of the whole second grade class, she said.
Blanding said she is thinking of transferring her daughter to another school so her daughter can be more comfortable.
Caesar, of East Newberry Avenue, admitted to striking the child in the incident report and is charged with three counts of third-degree assault and battery and one count of disturbing schools.
She was booked at Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center.
Shelly Galloway, Sumter School District spokeswoman, said law enforcement was notified immediately about Wednesday’s incident and was present at the school on Thursday.
"Our first and most important priority is the safety of our students and staff," she wrote in a statement. "We are thankful to the Sumter Police Department for their swift and vigilant response."
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