Charges dropped against Miami-Dade teacher who police say broke both her student’s arms

(WSVN) - A South Florida teacher was arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse, but the decision to drop the case now has the student’s family fuming. 7’s Brian Entin investigates.

Brian Entin: “I wanted to ask you about what happened at the school. Ma’am?”

Teacher Claude Alerte Paul did not want to talk about what happened to her former student, 11-year-old Josiah Booker.

Miami-Dade Schools Police say Paul broke both of Josiah’s arms inside Miami Park Elementary.

Josiah Booker: “She tried to turn my arms into a pretzel. She was holding it like this when it was behind my back.”

Josiah has an emotional and behavioral disorder and was in a special needs class. Police say he got in trouble for talking and dropping a pencil, and then slapping his teacher in the face.

That’s when, school police say, Paul put Josiah in a “restraint position,” grabbing his right arm and putting it “up to the middle of his back,” then took his left arm and “bent it at the wrist.”

X-rays show Josiah’s arms were “fractured in three locations.”

Josiah Booker: “They put a cast on me, and I had to go to an orthopedic doctor to get two casts, on this arm and this arm.”

The detective said the teacher also “struck the victim in the face” and said, “Who are you gonna slap now?”

Linda Carter, victim’s grandmother: “I was in shock. I didn’t believe this really still happened, even though it was told to me!”

School police arrested Claude Paul back in October and charged her with aggravated child abuse, but last month, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office decided to drop the charges against the teacher.

Linda Carter: “My grandson was a victim, OK? I was surprised they didn’t move forward. This is a child. This is a special needs child.”

In a statement obtained by 7News, the teacher wrote: “He punched me several times in the face. I almost fell to the ground.” And prosecutors say students in the class backed up her statement.

As for the accusation the teacher slapped Josiah, prosecutors say the 11-year-old gave conflicting statements, and in a recorded interview denied it happened.

Bottom line: the state says they could not prove the teacher “intended to cause injury” and concluded they “could not prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Linda Carter: “If that would have been me, I would be sitting in jail now. Bond, zero!”

Miami-Dade County Schools says Claude Paul was a special education teacher for almost two decades, never getting in trouble. But the District fired her after this incident. She is now appealing her termination.

Josiah’s grandmother has hired an attorney, and the family has since moved to Broward so he could get a fresh start at a new school.

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