PROVIDENCE, Utah — A Cache County middle school teacher was arrested on charges of child abuse and aggravated assault Thursday, for allegedly attacking a group of students.
The incident has shocked the school community where Scott D. Meeker teachers, as those who know him tell Fox 13 this is not within the longtime teacher's character.
The Cache County Sheriff's Office said Meeker, 51, a teacher at Spring Creek Middle School in Providence, "lost control" against students who were horsing around as class was ending around 2 p.m. Wednesday.
"It appears that the teacher just lost their cool, snapped," said Lieutenant Doyle Peck. "The first alleged assault involved a student being allegedly pushed against a wall. And then from there, it appeared to us that some other students-- we don't know exactly what provoked it-- but the teacher again became upset, and at that point did go through a crowd of students to strike another student, allegedly in the back of the head at least two times."
The incident led to one student being treated at the hospital for bruising, Lt. Peck said.
Meeker was originally placed on administrative leave Wednesday after the school district notified a school resource deputy of the alleged assault, Lt. Peck explained.
The Cache County Sheriff's Office began its investigation Thursday, and Lt. Peck said they interviewed multiple students and staff to find out what happened. They identified five students as victims in the assault, and made the decision from there to arrest Meeker, Lt. Peck indicated.
The news has left the school reeling. Parents told Fox 13 that their students love Mr. Meeker, and that he is a favorite among many children.
Other former students and parents said they have witnessed concerning behavior in the past in the classroom, but nothing to this scale. Some said they reported past incidents to the school, others said they didn't.
A teacher who works with Meeker at Spring Creek Middle School told Fox 13 she was completely surprised by the arrest, as this is not within Meeker's character at all.
She said Mr. Meeker has taken the time to meet many of the school's special needs students and know them by name.
"He has the patience to get to know these kids, and they're not even in his classroom," said the teacher, who did not want to be identified to protect her job.
She continued that she has taught alongside Mr. Meeker for 14 years, and that he is the kindest person she knows.
"He helped me completely through my first year of teaching and gave up a lot of time," she said. "And that's just the kind of personality he has."
The teacher described the news as devastating to the school, and a tough and difficult situation all around.
"I really hope we can all be patient and be kind to the families of the students that are involved, an kind to him and his family through this really difficult time," she said.
Meeker was arrested and booked into jail Thursday on one count of Felony Second Degree Child Abuse, one count of Third Degree Felony Aggravated Assault and three counts of Class B Misdemeanor Assault.
In response to the incident, the Cache County School District said in a statement that it "does not tolerate the use of physical force of any kind by adults with children," and that actions will be taken after the investigation is complete.
The statement read in part, "every student should be able to attend school without concern for their safety and well being, and with the knowledge that adults should be their strongest advocates."