Deltona High School employee accused of slapping student with Down syndrome

Paraprofessional placed on paid leave

DELTONA, Fla. – A Volusia County Schools employee who works with students with special needs is accused of child abuse after another employee said they witnessed her slapping a student, according to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.

According to the report, the Deltona High School school resource officer was approached by a parent who said their son, who has Down syndrome and autism, was slapped by a teacher and they would like to press charges.

Another teacher witnessed the incident and told the student's parent, deputies said. The witness told deputies Patricia Reynolds, 71, was in the bathroom helping the student change and slapped him in the face. When Reynolds saw the other teacher behind her, she said, "I'm sorry. I lost my temper."

Deputies spoke with Reynolds, who said she knew what incident they were talking about and showed them bruises on her arms that she said were caused by the same student during an altercation on Monday. Deputies photographed bruises on Reynolds' arms and her injured right pinky, according to the report.

Reynolds was arrested on charges of child abuse and booked into the Volusia County Jail, according to the report.

The Florida Department of Children and Families was notified and is also investigating the incident.

Officials with Volusia County Schools said Reynolds has been with the district since January 2016 as a paraprofessional at Deltona High School. She is on paid leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Reynolds declined to comment for this story. She will be represented by an attorney through her union representative.

Parents picking up their students from the high school Wednesday were upset by the allegations.

 "I'd be very upset if something like that happened to my child," said grandparent Maritza Gonzalez. "Yeah, that's bad news. It's real bad. I mean, you send your kids to school to learn and for people to take care of them, not to abuse them."

Parent Cindi Victorelli agreed.

"If you're having trouble handling the situation, then you need to get assistance and bring somebody else into the fold," Victorelli said.