Verdigris Elementary School Teacher Charged With Assaulting Students

Wednesday, November 6th 2013, 10:35 pm
By: Tess Maune

A longtime Green Country teacher is accused of pushing, punching and forcefully grabbing some of her elementary school students.

April Beth Cohenour was charged Wednesday with nine counts of assault and battery on her students.

She's still on the payroll at Verdigris Schools, but Cohenour hasn't been in the classroom for weeks.

Cohenour's an art teacher at the Lower Elementary School in Verdigris. She was placed on administrative leave last month, after police say several of her students went home with marks on their bodies.

"We took it seriously and we followed through with an investigation," said Chief Jack Shackelford, of Verdigris Police.

Verdigris Police Chief Jack Shackelford said a three-week investigation uncovered April Beth Cohenour had assaulted nine students, ages 7 through 10.

"I think she handled them a little roughly," Shackelford said.

He said Cohenour used unnecessary force on October 9, when her students wouldn't line up in her classroom the way she wanted them to.

"I think one or two of them may have been pushed up against the wall," Shackelford said.

Court documents show the young students also claim their teacher grabbed them by the neck, shoulders and head and pushed them into cabinets and furniture. One 10-year-old student told detectives Cohenour punched him in the arm.

"I think there were some marks on a couple of the students around their neck and shoulder area, where possibly they got scratched and we were told that they were being pinched," Shackelford said.

Detectives say they took pictures of the injuries and interviewed victims and witnesses with the help of the Children's Advocacy Center.

"We felt we had a case that should be filed with the DA's office," Shackelford said.

The district attorney filed charges against Cohenour Wednesday and shortly after, she turned herself in to the Rogers County jail.

"She admitted that she probably, maybe, lost her cool with the kids," the police chief said.

We stopped by Cohenour's home, but no one came to the door.

The Verdigris superintendent wouldn't go on camera, but sent a statement saying the district takes the allegations seriously and will continue to cooperate with police and the DA's office.

Cohenour left the jail Wednesday afternoon on a $6,500 bond.

Police say she'd been a teacher with Verdigris schools for 19 years, but has been teaching for 21. She's been on paid administrative leave since last month and the superintendent says that has not changed.