DeKalb County

Teacher's assistant fired, accused of breaking arm of middle school student with autism

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — DeKalb County Schools has fired a paraprofessional accused of breaking a middle school student's arm.

According to an arrest affidavit, surveillance cameras at the school captured the entire incident.

DeKalb school police said the video showed a Tucker Middle School teacher as he yanked and pulled on the arm of a student with autism. To make matters worse, the child's parents told Channel 2's Michael Seiden he doesn't speak.

"That's disturbing. My daughter was in special-needs classes and, if someone had done that to my daughter, I wouldn't have liked it and it wouldn't have been a pretty sight either," a parent told Channel 2 Action News.

DeKalb school police arrested 31-year-old James Womack on Tuesday.

Police said the paraprofessional, who taught students with disabilities, asked a seventh-grade student with autism to sit down.

But when the student didn’t listen, investigators said, Womack pushed the child into a bench six times.


The warrant said he yanked and pulled the teenager's arm until it was broken.

The school district said surveillance video captured the entire incident on Aug. 20, and officials removed Womack from the classroom the following day and placed him on paid administrative leave. The district fired him on Tuesday.

In an email from the district, a spokesperson wrote, in part:

“The health and safety of our students is, and always will be, the number one priority at DeKalb County School District. For this reason, the district has responded swiftly to the incident at Tucker Middle School by immediately ending James Womack’s employment and removing him from the school."

The former teacher's assistant is facing charges of child cruelty and aggravated battery.

He is expected to make his first court appearance on Wednesday.