Ohio Parents Heartbroken after Kindergarten Teacher Manhandles Their Son

When we send our children off to school, we relinquish their care to teachers, aides, and administrators. We expect that our children will be safe, that they will be treated with kindness and attentiveness. Most of the time, this is the case. But there are also those rare instances in which it doesn’t. The recent actions of an Ohio kindergarten teacher are a prime example.

At a Riverdale School in Mt. Blanchard, 6-year-old Ian Nelson can be seen on camera, walking through the halls by himself to the restroom. As he exits the bathroom, his teacher, Barb Williams, grabbed him and pushed him up against the wall.

Teacher Barb Williams is videotaped manhandling Ian Nelson

She then grabbed a hold of his face, and then his shirt. She picks him up and starts to shake him. His neck snaps back and, again, he is tossed into the wall.

Teacher Barb Williams is videotaped manhandling Ian Nelson

Ian went home that day and never told his parents what happened, but another staff member reported it. At first, Ian’s parents didn’t think much about the incident. Then they saw the video footage.

“I was crying,” the boy’s mother, Autumn Nelson, told TODAY’s Katy Tur on Friday. “It broke my heart to see my child get harmed by a complete stranger.”

Autumn and Anthony Nelson with son Ian

Ian, who was placed in a different classroom for the remainder of the school year, still hasn’t said much about the incident. “She did this to me – hard,” he told TODAY, grabbing his own shirt as his mother watched in tears.

Williams has been working at the school for 14 years. She refused to give a statement to TODAY, and she hasn’t given any information regarding the reasoning behind her actions towards Ian. The school has put her on unpaid leave for the remainder of the school year. They also filed reports with the Hancock County Sherriff’s Office and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

“You don’t ever want somebody’s child to go through that,” Eric Hoffman, Riverdale’s Superintendent, told TODAY. “That’s not what we’re about. And we move forward.”

Ian’s family says the consequences just aren’t steep enough. They are requesting that Williams be terminated.

“They should have fired her when they found out about the whole situation, that she put her hands on him,” Autumn said.

“I would wonder what would happen to myself, if I were to do that to her,” Ian’s father, Anthony Nelson, told WAFF. “If I were to do that to her, I would go to jail.”

Though they have not taken any legal action against Williams or the school yet, the family has hired a lawyer. They also say they are planning to take the video to the Hancock Police Department to try and file criminal charges against Williams.

The Hancock Police Department has confirmed with TODAY that an investigation is already in place.

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About the author


Kate Givans is a wife and a mother of five—four sons (one with autism) and a daughter. She’s an advocate for breastfeeding, women’s rights, against domestic violence, and equality for all. When not writing—be it creating her next romance novel or here on Growing Your Baby—Kate can be found discussing humanitarian issues, animal rights, eco-awareness, food, parenting, and her favorite books and shows on Twitter or Facebook. Laundry is the bane of her existence, but armed with a cup of coffee, she sometimes she gets it done.

1 Comment

  • I would like to make a suggestion. It’s for school systems to avoid this sort of thing in the first place. How about a code of conduct handbook for teachers? It could list the system’s rules for disciplining students, maybe a timeline of school determined discipline for the first, second, etc. time a student does a particular behavior that is not acceptable. Notify the parents after each event too. This way a teacher who does not follow it can be removed without any argument. It would also let the teachers and parents know exactly what their responsibility is in each incident, and may help avoid this sort of thing. I am not backing the teacher, just trying to think of a way to avoid this in the future.

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