A Middlefield teacher who is accused of hitting a 13-year-old girl in the head during his class has been arrested.
Police started investigating Andrew Watt, a teacher at the Independent Day School, in Middlefield on March 24 when the student’s mother reported that he hit her daughter in the head, according to state police.
When police spoke with the victim, she told police that she was in “maker lab” during a digital sciences class and Watt asked the class to “circle up,” which was normal.
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The student said she then joked with him.
Referring to the Tai Chi class Watts teaches, she said “Don’t you mean square up?” and raised her hands in a defensive position, according to the statement she gave police.
Watt responded by raising his own hands in a defensive position and said, “You don’t want to square up with me in my own maker lab,” the student told police.
She said she was caught off-guard by his response and stepped back, but Watt pushed her forehead with his forearm and she hit her head as she fell backward.
“That’s why you don’t square up with me in my maker lab,” Watt said after the student stood up, according to the arrest warrant application.
Then he apologized to the student and said “I apologize for the show” to the class, according to police paperwork.
When the student went to another class, she told the teacher what happened and the teacher reported it to school administrators, the student told police.
When police spoke with the school, administrators said they were investigating but did not report the incident to the state Department of Children and Families because they did not think it rose to the occasion, according to police.
“Teachers, nurses, those in the medical field, they are mandated reporters,” Trooper Kelly Grant of the Connecticut State Police said. “When they become aware of any type of abuse, sexual assault, physical assault, they are mandated to report that to police and to DCF.”
School officials said Watt resigned the next day, but did not elaborate, according to the police report.
“Since the March 10th incident, Andrew Watt has had no affiliation or employment with the Independent Day School. We have high standards of all our employees and when they are not met we take appropriate steps to maintain those standards. Our approach continues to be working through this matter with the appropriate focus and attention and ensuring that our students continue to thrive in their current program,” Jessi Christiansen, Head of School, said in an emailed statement.
Police said they notified the Department of Children and Families after speaking with the student’s mother.
When police called Watt, 45, of Middletown, he hung up the phone and didn't return phone calls until his attorney contacted police later that day.
The attorney told police that Watt provided the school with written documentation about the incident, according to the arrest warrant application.
The school also provided police with a ”journal entry” from Watt that day that, cited “frustrations and difficulties” over the prior 24 hours that built up to a confrontation with the student and that it “had very little to do with her but that had left me frazzled by the end of the day.”
He said the student didn't help with cleanup in class and he felt like she was “almost mocking my call for a circle of the class.”
After speaking with the victim and witnesses, police obtained an arrest warrant for Watt and charged him with risk of injury to a child and second-degree breach of peace.
NBC Connecticut tried reaching Watt at his home and over the phone Wednesday night, but he could not be reached for comment. He was released after posting a $5,000 bond and he is due in court on May 3.