Broward County

Teacher accused of hitting students

A Larkdale Elementary teacher has been accused of spanking children with rulers and punching two 7-year-old girls in their arms.

District officials confirmed that Torrance Smith, 41, a second-grade teacher at the Fort Lauderdale school, is under investigation for an allegation of battery involving a student. Smith was removed from the classroom Tuesday and will work at an administrative site during the investigation, said Nadine Drew, a district spokeswoman.

Smith couldn't be reached Wednesday for comment, despite three attempts by phone.

The district wouldn't confirm details of the accusation. But a mother, Adriene Davis, said Smith punched her 7-year-old daughter in the arm for talking during a lesson. She said her daughter's friend also was hit in the arm.

Her daughter also told her she has seen Smith spank students with rulers, Davis said.

Smith has worked in the district for 13 years, and at Larkdale since 1999, Drew said. He has taught physical education and the second-, third- and fifth-grades at Larkdale.

He has taught second grade since 2008, according to the district.

Davis said she made her complaint to school Principal Valoria Latson on Feb. 18. A few days later, Davis said at her request her daughter was moved to another class.

But an investigation did not begin until March 3, the district confirmed.

Davis said because of the delay she wants the girl switched to another school. She said she was concerned Smith's long tenure at the school would make it difficult to for her daughter to remain there.

"The staff is more favorable to the teacher," she said.

Drew said she couldn't immediately address Davis' complaint about the delay. Latson couldn't be reached Wednesday for comment, despite a call to the school. Her secretary said Latson left early because of an ill family member.