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Published: Friday, 5/16/2014 - Updated: 9 months ago

Family of Riverdale Elementary School kindergarten student say son was attacked, hire lawyer


MOUNT BLANCHARD, Ohio -- The family of a Riverdale Elementary School kindergarten student who say their son was the victim of an assault by a teacher in a Hancock County school has hired a Cleveland law firm to represent their interest.

The case, which has gained national attention, is also being investigated by at least three different agencies: the Hancock County Sheriff's office, the Ohio Department of Education and the Hancock County Department of Children's Services.

RELATED: Teacher suspended after shaking student on video

A Riverdale teacher, Barb Williams, has been suspended for 10 days after a security camera showed her pushing the student against a wall and then lifting him up by his shirt and face. The student in the video has been identified as 6-year-old Ian Nelson of Wharton.

Ms. Williams, who is Ian's teacher at the school, was suspended for the remainder of the school year without pay, said Superintendent Eric Hoffman.

Mr. Hoffman said the Ohio Department of Education has confirmed they have received the school district's report on the incident and  are conducting an investigation. A spokesman for the State agency said, however, that by law he is not allowed to confirm or deny that the department is investigating the conduct of a teacher.

Spokesman John Charlton said the investigation will remain confidential unless the accused teacher requests a hearing or if the person is found guilty and disciplined by the State Board of Education.

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The Nelson family attorney, Dan Margolis, Cleveland, said the family is very upset about the 10-day suspension of the teacher and feel the punishment should be much more severe.

“Let's say that the person who grabbed this child was a high school senior in Riverdale Local – do you think that student would be suspended for 10 days or would they be expelled?" asked Mr. Margolis.

Mr. Hoffman said school officials noticed the incident on the district’s security camera footage on May 7 and then started taking action the next day.

Mr. Hoffman said he met with the parents of the child seen in the video on Tuesday, and provided them with the video and documents about the teacher’s suspension. 

The Riverdale school district is located in a rural area, south of Findlay, in Hancock County. The K-12 district has about 1,000 who come from three counties, Hancock, Hardin and Wyandot, said Mr. Hoffman.

Contact Marlene Harris-Taylor at mtaylor@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.

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