FRUITLAND — The parents of a first-grade student at Ojo Amarillo Elementary are alleging a teacher at the school slapped their son in the face after pushing him against a wall.

Brenda Ray and Orlando James, the parents of seven-year-old Dante James, say their son was dragged by the collar of his shirt by a second-grade teacher and pushed against the wall on Dec. 17.

After Dante hit his head against the school building, he uttered a swear word to the teacher, Ray said, and the teacher on duty slapped the boy across the face.

Central Consolidated School District officials say they have investigated the incident and found the teacher did nothing wrong.

"It makes me sad because we trusted the school for our child to be there," Ray said. "It kind of hurts us that a teacher would do that."

Orlando James and Ray said district and school officials would not release the name of the teacher who allegedly hit their son.

It was Dante's teacher Elsie Dan who told Orlando about the alleged incident after several students reported that Dante was hit by the teacher.

Efforts to contact the school and Dan for comment were unsuccessful.

Orlando said he found out about the alleged incident after he went to pick up Dante from school. He said school officials told him Dante was being disruptive.

"I went there because he was misbehaving and she (Dan) pulled me aside and told me," Orlando James said.

Ray said Dante was reacting to a female student pulling his hair and he started pulling her hair when the teacher on duty caught him.

District spokesman James Preminger said in an email the district conducted an investigation and cleared the teacher of any wrongdoing.

Orlando James on Thursday teaches his son, Dante James, about a series of military flags on display at Nenahnezad Chapter House.
Orlando James on Thursday teaches his son, Dante James, about a series of military flags on display at Nenahnezad Chapter House. (Jon Austria — The Daily Times)

"We are aware of the parents' allegations and take their allegations seriously," Preminger said. The district's investigation cleared the teacher of any wrongdoing, he said.

Ray and Orlando James took Dante to the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock to have him examined.

According to the medical paperwork shared with The Daily Times, the gums inside Dante's mouth had one upper and one lower tooth indentation and his inner check had mild tenderness to touch along the left jawline.

In a second statement by the district, Preminger said the highest priority for the district and their teachers is the health, safety and well being of the students.

"If we believed anything had happened, we would have immediately taken appropriate action. But that is not the case here," Preminger said.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or jkellogg@daily-times.com. Follow him on Twitter @jkelloggdt.