Warren County teacher found not guilty of assaulting student

A local teacher accused of assaulting a student was found not guilty by a judge following a bench trial Tuesday in Franklin Municipal Court.

Kathryn N. Spitznogle, 28, of Waynesville, allegedly shoved an 8-year-old boy to the hallway floor May 5 at the Warren County Learning Center/Laura Farrell Campus, 513 Park Ave., according to a Franklin police incident report.

After their investigation, Franklin police charged Spitznogle with assault, a first-degree misdemeanor. This was her first brush with the court system.

Spitznogle became emotional after the verdict by Judge Ronald Ruppert was rendered following the 90-minute trial, according to her attorney David Anthony Chicarelli.

“Teachers aren’t punching bags,” Chicarelli said. “This was a case of self-defense. They (the prosecutor) did not meet their burden and they did not prove it wasn’t self-defense.”

Chicarelli said the incident was all on camera but sometimes the camera doesn’t see everything. He said the teacher is supposed to have two paraprofessionals in the classroom at all times, but the paraprofessionals were with another child in a calming room. The child involved in the incident with the teacher was also involved in the previous incident, he said.

“Administrators have unrealistic expectations of these teachers and hold them to unrealistic standards,” Chicarelli said.

School Resource Officer David Yost was contacted by Principal Wiley Collett at the Laura Farrell campus and was told the incident began after the boy was asked to write an apology letter to another student, according to the report.

Video from the school showed Spitznogle escort the student into the hallway and place him on the yellow tiles on the floor. The video shows the boy running back into the classroom as Spitznogle is attempting to close the door, according to police.

After they are back in the hall, the video shows the boy running back toward Spitznogle, who is seen pushing him with one hand. The boy re-approaches, and swings at Spitznogle as she leans against her classroom door, according to the report.

After Spitznogle leans against the door, the boy approaches her again and appears to be leaning against her. She then pushes him away multiple times as he keeps approaching. The video showed that on the third push, she forcefully pushes the boy, causing him to fall to the ground, according to the report.

Police said Spitznogle was interviewed by the principal and by the program supervisor. Spitznogle said, “she was frustrated, the child’s head was near her crotch, and nobody else was in her room that could help her,” according to police.

During testimony, the school resource officer, who investigated the incident, told the court that some call the school the “fight club.”

The Warren County Education Services Center operates the Laura Farrell Learning Center that serves children with severe emotional issues. Children are from Warren County and other counties are enrolled there. The boy involved in the incident was a second-grader from Dayton.

Tom Isaacs, Warren County ESC superintendent, said the child involved continues to be enrolled at the school.

Isaacs said he felt Spitznogle was incorrectly charged. He said that it was not an assault but a violation of workplace rules.

He said it was “unfortunate” for the then first-year teacher. She was placed on administrative leave and was not recommended for contract renewal due to her inappropriate behavior. Isaacs said there were other staff members in the building who could have helped her in this situation.

According to the Ohio Department of Education website, Spitznogle’s four-year resident educator intervention specialist for K-12 continues to be valid through June 2026. Her three-year pupil activity permit is also valid through June 2024.

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