NORWALK, Conn. (WTNH) – Police arrested a Norwalk teacher Friday for allegedly assaulting three fifth graders at Brookside Elementary School.
According to police, Stephanie Sanabria was working as a math coach on Feb. 24 when she applied a martial arts chokehold on three students and caused one of them to lose consciousness.
The Special Victim’s Unit conducted an investigation. Sanabria was arrested at her home in Danbury on Friday.
Sanabria has been charged with second-degree strangulation, risk of injury to a minor and first-degree reckless endangerment.
She is scheduled to appear in court on March 10.
Norwalk Public Schools said officials notified the Norwalk Police Department of the incident. With the assistance of the Norwalk Police Department, the district determined that a teacher was demonstrating defensive holds to students and a student fainted during that demonstration. That student did not sustain any permanent injury.
The district said Sanabria resigned from the Norwalk Public Schools.
A spokesperson said, “The safety of our students is our first concern, and we immediately investigated the situation involving Ms. Sanabria when it occurred.”
The instructors at a martial arts studio on Main Avenue said a chokehold could be dangerous.
“You have to know what you’re doing to know when to stop,” said James Santalucia, Calasanz Martial Arts & Fitness System instructor. “You must know what you’re doing to know when to stop. You have to have restraint. And if you’re just anybody on the street and you don’t have that training, a lot of people don’t have that restraint. That’s why people get hurt.”
Parents were shocked to hear something like this happen in the classroom.
“It’s scary to think it could have been my child or someone else’s child that I know,” said Alicia Farrow from Norwalk.
“Clearly, I don’t think she knew what she was doing,” said Allison Petrides from New Cannan. “I mean, if she did, I don’t think she would have intentionally choked them out, but she did, so it kind of goes to show you that they should not be putting their hands on the kids whatsoever.”