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Alphonso Joseph, Fort Lauderdale, Florida Teacher, Accused of Assaulting Two Students

Alphonso Joseph, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida teacher, was suspended from his job Tuesday after he was accused of physically assaulting two of his students, according to the press. The alleged assaults took place one year ago. Police conducted an investigation into the alleged incidents and said criminal charges are pending; Joseph has not yet been arrested. It remains to be seen whether the victims will file a suit against Joseph. It is also unclear if Joseph has hired a defense attorney to help him with the case.

According to reports, Joseph has worked for the school district since 2003 and was teaching students at Arthur Ashe Middle School when the alleged assaults occurred. The school district has suspended Joseph and has announced its intention to fire him in the coming month; Joseph may be able to avoid that termination if he chooses to challenge that allegations at an administrative hearing, reports say. It is unclear whether the school made a public statement regarding the accusations.

Reports say the two assaults occurred in February 2012 during school hours. Two substitute teachers reportedly witnessed Joseph shoving a student from his classroom. The substitute teachers also claim Joseph choked another student. Reports say the students were uninjured following the incident; the district did not release any more details regarding the attacks.

The Fort Lauderdale Police Department investigated the allegations and criminal charges are pending, sources say. According to reports, a Professional Standards Committee suggested that the school district fire Joseph. An education advocate commented on the situation, saying that, despite the pressure involved, “[A teacher] should always have a child’s best interest at hand.”

In other news, Anthony Sawyer of Pompano Beach was arrested Monday after he allegedly tried to kidnap a three-year-old at knifepoint, reports say. Sawyer, 29, was booked into police custody on charges of kidnapping a minor, armed robbery, battery, and drug possession. It is unclear whether he qualified for bail or hired legal representation.

According to reports, Sawyer sat next to Tina Lindell and her son Jordan Francois on a bus traveling along route 18 in Broward County. Sawyer allegedly brandished a three-inch knife in a threatening way and then followed Lindell and Francois off the bus. Once outside, Sawyer reportedly reached under Lindell’s shirt and ordered her to hand over her jacket. Lindell remained motionless and Sawyer released his hold, reports say. Sources say Sawyer then took Francois by the hand and started to pull him away, but Lindell shouted for help and a nearby witness came to her aid. Sawyer reportedly released the child and fled the scene.

Detectives tracked Sawyer to a gas station nearby and found two other victims who claimed Sawyer had pulled a knife on them. Detectives say they did not locate a knife on Sawyer during his arrest, but did find some marijuana in his sock. According to reports, Sawyer has a criminal record with prior charges of trespassing, auto theft and illegal gambling.

Sources: 2.5.13 Joseph School Misconduct.pdf, 2.5.13 Sawyer Armed Robbery.pdf.

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