Teacher arrested after allegedly punching student

OKEECHOBEE — Dennis Hall, 27, of Okeechobee, was arrested Nov. 9 after allegedly striking a student at Bear Lakes Middle School in Palm Beach County, where he teaches. According to the arrest report, the 14-year-old student and the teacher had a verbal argument in which Mr. Hall allegedly called the student some derogatory names, including “pussy.”

Dennis Hall, 27

Witnesses claim the verbal argument escalated to a physical altercation when Mr. Hall grabbed the student by his shirt collar, and the student grabbed Mr. Hall’s collar in return.

One witness is reported as saying, “Mr. Hall stated, ‘y’all jitterbugs better stop trying me.’” Witnesses said Mr. Hall pushed the student into a classroom, where he fell over a chair and a desk.

The student is reported to have spit in Mr. Hall’s face before Mr. Hall allegedly retaliated by punching the student in the eye. The report states the student stated Mr. Hall had been calling him names all semester, and several witnesses attested Mr. Hall had several opportunities to disengage from the situation but chose not to do so. They said the student had blood pouring from his nose after he was punched and that Mr. Hall immediately left the building without checking to find out if the student was injured after he was hit.

The report states that the student’s parents took him to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with an orbital fracture and a contusion to his left eye.

Mr. Hall faces charges of child abuse. He was arrested but released on his own recognizance.

The Palm Beach County School District has reassigned Mr. Hall pending completion of the investigation, and their media relations specialist, Julie Houston Trieste, states he has absolutely no contact with children at this time.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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