Santa Fe teacher accused of duct taping students' mouths

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Police are investigating a student's claims that a Santa Fe Public Schools fifth-grade teacher placed duct tape over the mouths of five students.

The student made the claim about the incident, which allegedly happened in December, Monday at a parent-teacher conference at Cesar Chavez Community School, said Cpt. Andrew Padilla, a Santa Fe Police Department spokesman. No arrests have been made and no charges have been filed in connection to the accusations.

"We want to interview anyone and everyone," Padilla said. "And we'll go from there."

Padilla said a "handful" of students may have been subjected to the tape, and that detectives are interviewing the teacher, students and others.

School district spokeswoman Theresa Baca said the teacher on paid administrative leave while police investigate.

Principal Tammy Hall in a letter Tuesday to parents said officials have started an internal investigation.

"The school has responded by taking immediate action and placing the teacher on administrative leave. This is a confidential personnel matter," Hall's letter said. "We have taken steps to ensure a fair and confidential investigation is promptly completed."

Last year a De Vargas Middle School teacher was charged with child abuse for allegedly throwing paperback books at four students. Many were critical that the Santa Fe Police Department filed charges too quickly before the district had completed its own investigation.

The charges against the De Vargas teacher were later dismissed.

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