An intervention specialist at Meadowdale High School was convicted by a jury for assaulting a student with cerebral palsy and limited verbal skills.
The jury deliberated for several hours Friday night and returned the guilty verdict against Georgia B. Cox.
Cox, 49, will be sentenced Aug. 13. She faces a sentence of up to 18 months in prison.
Cox is an intervention specialist for special needs students at Dayton Public Schools. The district hired Cox in 2006 as a reserve teacher, then hired her full time in 2008.
A jury of seven men and five women got the case late Friday afternoon after closing arguments as the boy’s mother watched from the gallery.
The case centered on a surveillance video showing the Oct. 10, 2012 incident in the room used as a cafeteria and auditorium at Meadowdale. The prosecution said Cox threatened the student, raised her hand at him and struck him twice.
The defense’s case, including Cox herself when she took the stand, tried to prove that Cox was playing with the boy and that the teacher was just trying to break the grip the boy had on her with his left hand. Cox said she used proper technique and judgment for the situation in which they boy was laughing and playing. “I never hit him,” Cox said while on the witness stand.
“This defendant didn’t make (him) feel protected,” prosecutor Kimberly Oliver said during closing arguments. “She stood over him with her hand in a fist threatening him and when he hit her, I’m sorry to say, she retaliated. And no teacher acting in retaliation can be considered acting reasonably. Those two things don’t go together.”
Earlier testimony about the boy indicated he had limited use of his left hand, which Cox said the boy used to reach across his body and hold her arm. Cox was standing on the student’s right side. From the moment Cox said she was grabbed until she was able to get away was 40 seconds.
Two people who were in the cafeteria testified that they either heard or saw Cox strike the boy twice.
Defense attorney David Williamson argued that Cox was not the student’s caretaker and not a regular member of her class. He said Cox was contractually obligated to serve only the eight students in her care. “Do you have a reason, at the end of the day, to doubt the state’s case?” Williamson asked jurors.
Cox testified while the video played that she wiggled her arm and asked the boy to turn her loose. Cox admitted that she told the wheelchair-bound student, “If you hit me, I’ll hit you back” but that it was in a playful nature. She testified she had to get loose so she could teach her students.
Cox was suspended by Dayton Public Schools after the incident. Williamson said Cox has two master’s degrees, is well thought of in her profession and has no other documented discipline.