GIBBON — A teacher at Gibbon Fairfax Winthrop Elementary School is facing criminal charges for reportedly dragging and restraining a child while the 6-year-old screamed that she could not breathe.

Renee Lorraine Schmidt, 50, of St. Peter, was charged with gross misdemeanor malicious punishment of a child and fifth-degree assault Tuesday in Sibley County District Court.

Schmidt was a special education teacher and was working with a kindergartner on Jan. 21. The girl told a police officer Schmidt got upset with her and hurt her, according to a court complaint. She could not breathe while Schmidt carried her for a long time, the girl said.

Surveillance video reportedly shows Schmidt drag the girl out of a classroom by the arms, then hold the girl’s wrists and try to pull the child to her feet. Schmidt then reportedly placed the girl in a bear hug hold with her arms across the girl’s chest and neck.

Schmidt carried the girl in this position down two hallways and two flights of stairs into another classroom, the charges say.

Schmidt reportedly admitted she heard the girl claiming she could not breathe, but she said the girl has a history of lying. She admitted she used a back staircase so the principal would not see them.

Multiple other staff members said they saw the girl being carried and heard the girl screaming that she could not breathe.

School staff told the investigator Schmidt’s behavior was contrary to their crisis intervention training, the charges say.

GFW Supt. Jeff Horton said his district immediately notified police about the incident, began an investigation and placed the teacher on leave.

“GFW Public Schools will continue to investigate the incident and take appropriate action,” he said.

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