Kindergarten Teacher Again Accused of Slapping 5-Year-Old Student

EL PASO — A kindergarten teacher charged in August with allegedly harming children was arrested again Monday on a new allegation of slapping a 5-year-old student.

Olga S. Najera, 52, was taken into custody Monday on a warrant on an injury to a child charge, El Paso police said.

The bilingual kindergarten teacher at Helen Ball Elementary School was on administrative leave from the Socorro Independent School District  after her August arrest on similar charges at a different school.

"She is a wonderful teacher who is very well liked by parents and loved by her students," said Najera's lawyer Mary Stillinger. "Before this first arrest, she never had any issues for many years. I think she is completely innocent of this."

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On Monday, Najera was arrested after an investigation allegedly found that she hit a "student with an open hand," causing the child an injury and pain between July 31 and Aug. 28, a police news release stated.

The alleged incident occurred while Najera was teaching at Helen Ball Elementary School in El Paso, police said.

Najera was booked Monday into the El Paso County Jail Downtown on a $15,000 bond.

"This new allegation is, to my understanding, it came up after the reports of her first arrest," Stillinger said. "Unfortunately, sometimes there is an aspect of hysteria when people think something is happening and they jump to conclusions."

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Last year, allegations arose that Najera had mistreated children while teaching at El Paso's Myrtle Cooper Elementary School.

Najera was cleared through a Socorro school district inquiry and returned to work but the case was turned over for a police investigation.

On Aug. 9, a state grand jury indicted Najera on two counts of injury to a child. She was arrested at Helen Ball Elementary.

According to the indictment, Najera was accused of slapping, pinching and stepping on children between Aug. 1 and Aug. 16, 2016.

Najera is accused of pinching a boy's arm and scratching his hands, the indictment states. She also allegedly slapped a girl in the face, stepped on the girl's foot and kicked her.

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She was released from jail on bond after the first arrest.

"When dealing with very young children you have to be sure what the facts are because we all know very young children do not always describe things as clearly as adults," Stillinger said.

"When there is no physical evidence, I think the Police Department is making a very serious mistake by moving so quickly on this," Stillinger said. "The allegations at the prior school had been investigated thoroughly by the school and had been found without merit."

Court records show the August case is scheduled to go to trial in April.

Copyright 2017 El Paso Times


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