Substitute teacher arrested for allegedly assaulting Texas high school student in video

KYLE, Texas (KXAN) — A substitute teacher was arrested Friday after a video showing her allegedly fighting with a student surfaced online.

The video shows Tiffani Shadell Lankford, 32, approaching the 16-year-old sophomore girl and then punching the student in the face. The substitute then continues hitting the student as others look on in shock.

In an email to parents on Friday, Lehman High School Principal Karen Zuniga wrote:

Dear Lobos,

As a family, we share both the good news and bad news together. Today, I have to tell you about an incident that is disconcerting.

This afternoon, we fired one of our guest teachers for hitting and fighting with a student. Under no circumstance is that behavior tolerated at Lehman High School or in Hays CISD. Additionally, the former employee was arrested by the Hays County Sheriff’s Office and faces potential criminal charges. Her actions will also be reported to the Texas Education Agency.

We take the safety and security of our students seriously. We took swift action when this incident occurred and will do everything necessary to protect our students.”

In a second statement on Friday night, the district said that during the incident, classmates of the girl alerted other adults on campus and the substitute was immediately removed from the classroom and questioned by school resource officer law enforcement agents.

“Under no circumstance is that behavior tolerated at Lehman High School or in Hays CISD,” said Lehman Principal Karen Zuniga. “We take the safety and security of our students seriously. We took swift action when this incident occurred and will do everything necessary to protect our students.”

In addition to firing the substitute teacher, the district will also report the incident to the Texas Education Agency and cooperate with law enforcement investigators.

According to Hays CISD, Lankford had worked for the district since Aug. 30, when she underwent orientation training. The district says her first job in the classroom was on Sept. 13 and worked in a classroom a total of 18 times.

On Friday night, the HCSO confirmed that Lankford was arrested and charged with aggravated assault. Lankford was released from jail Saturday on a $10,000 bond.

Students recall the news of what happened spreading quickly around the school.

“I saw the video, and I started crying because it’s my teammate,” said Samara Valdez, who plays basketball with the victim.

HCSO says the victim’s father took her to a hospital for evaluation. HCSO says this is an ongoing case.

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