Florida

Teacher arrested for flipping desk while student with Down Syndrome was seated inside

Escambia Westgate School special needs teacher Donna Dixon has been accused of flipping a desk with a student sitting in its seat. The student has Down Syndrome.
Escambia Westgate School special needs teacher Donna Dixon has been accused of flipping a desk with a student sitting in its seat. The student has Down Syndrome. WKRG News5

A teacher in Pensacola was arrested and charged with child cruelty earlier this month after being accused of flipping her student’s desk while the special needs teen was still seated inside.

Escambia Westgate School special needs teacher Donna Dixon said she walked into her classroom on Oct. 11 and the 16-year-old student —who has Down Syndrome and limited verbal communication — had her head down on her desk.

Dixon put her “little mean face” on and tilted the desk to get the child to stand up, the Pensacola News Journal reported.

The desk tipped, causing the girl to fall and hit a large plastic cart and complained of a sore neck, the Journal reported.

Dixon, 56, reportedly said she guided the desk as it fell so that the girl would not be harmed. But she didn’t help her get up from the floor because she said she isn’t strong enough. She told police she was frustrated because she didn’t have a teacher’s aide and didn’t report the incident to the school or the family because she was busy. She told the police if she took the time to report every incident she’d never get anything accomplished.

Dixon was arrested later that day, and suspended from the school.

The girl’s mother, Beth Simoneaux, told WKRG News5 that she was “disappointed” over what happened. “That lady, Mrs. Dixon, I trusted her with my child. Taylor’s dad committed suicide when she was a few months old. So I’m mom and dad.” She added that her daughter’s mood has improved since Dixon was suspended.

Dixon’s neighbor told WKRG that Dixon had a lot of experience working at day care centers and “she is one of the most compassionate and sincere people I know and I know that she loves children.”

Dixon has worked at Escambia Westgate for eight years. She has been with the Escambia County School District for 23 years.

Howard Cohen: 305-376-3619, @HowardCohen

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