Lunchroom supervisor charged with assaulting five students
Published on Friday December 07, 2012 Share on twitter
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BERNARD WEIL/TORONTO STAR
Karla Martinez, 34, a lunch supervisor at Essex Junior Public School, leaves Old City Hall court after getting bail on Friday. Martinez was arrested and charged with five counts of assaulting children at the school during their lunch hour.
Andrew Livingstone, Jennifer Pagliaro and Alexandra Bosanac
A lunch supervisor who allegedly straddled an 8-year-old boy and clawed at his face in a Christie Pit’s school playground before attacking four other children was released from custody for a mental health assessment Friday.
Karla Martinez, 34, has been charged with assaulting five children during the lunch hour Thursday at Essex Junior and Senior Public School.
She appeared in court Friday afternoon, visibly disoriented as she stood in the prisoners’ box resting her head against the glass window that separated her from the Old City Hall courtroom.
A judge released her to her brother and father on $500 bail.
Det. Jeff Bangild said, according to statements taken from the children and staff, the 8-year-old boy was allegedly straddled and physically attacked about the head and face.
When four other students, two boys and two girls aged 7 to 11, approached — unsure of what was happening and asked “Are you OK?” — they too were allegedly attacked, Bangild said.
After one of the students sought help, the school’s principal and vice principal intervened and called police.
The first boy suffered superficial scratches to the neck and shoulder area and did not require medical attention, Bangild said. The other students suffered no injuries.
It is not clear what precipitated the alleged attack.
“The trauma of the event is the main concern we have,” Bangild said. “We are concerned about (accused’s) mental health.”
Bangild said Martinez was described as a model employee who became a lunch supervisor at Essex in September after meeting principal Marc Green while working at a Toronto District School Board summer program.
School board spokesperson Shari Schwartz-Maltz said all lunch supervisors undergo a full criminal background check, which is updated annually, and require two reference checks for previous work with children.
TDSB employees are not required to undergo mental health assessments.
“The employee is obviously not permitted to be on any school property right now,” Schwartz-Maltz said, adding Martinez would be suspended indefinitely pending an internal investigation.
Essex principal Green could not be reached for comment, but wrote a letter home to parents Thursday provided to the Star by the board.
“The safety of our students is a top priority and we are committed to enforcing policies about the well-being of students,” the letter said. “We know that this situation may be upsetting for some of our students and will ensure that supports are in place for those students.”
After a mental health assessment, Martinez could be released with conditions, Bangild said. A judge can also order treatment for a person diverted for mental health reasons.
A criminal trial process will only move forward if the incident is not deemed a mental health issue, he said.
Martinez will be back in court Dec. 14.
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