Teacher's aide accused of abusing students faces judge

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ATLANTA - A teacher's aide accused of abusing non-verbal special needs students went before a judge Friday.

Kesha Smith is facing simple battery charges for an incident caught on camera in a Harper-Archer Middle School classroom.

Police say the video, shot by a teacher, shows Smith violently grabbing a student and then forcefully throwing him to the ground. Officers say she then repeatedly slapped him on the head. Police say she did the same with another student.

Paraprofessional Alger Coleman was also seen in the video. Police say he was abusing a student, and charged him with first-degree child cruelty.

Coleman was charged back in April, but Smith wasn’t charged until one month later.

“This has completely rocked her life,” said Smith’s attorney, Elliot Baer.

Baer tried to get the simple battery charge dismissed during a hearing Friday because the investigating officer didn’t show up. The judge postponed the hearing because the officer is on vacation. The hearing is now scheduled for June 12.

Channel 2’s Tom Jones approached Smith outside the courthouse to get her side of the story, but Smith wouldn’t comment on the video or the charges.

“I've advised my client not to comment. I think it's in her best interest not to speak,” said Baer.

Baer says Smith can't wait for her day in court. He asked the public not to be seduced by the video.

“One small snippet of video is not a complete story,” said Baer. “It is a terrible situation and I think as more and more facts come to light about the classroom, the school, possibly the school system. I think folks are going to be somewhat alarmed.”

Smith and Coleman are no longer with Atlanta Public Schools.