Ponce de Leon teacher arrested for paddling handicapped student

Ponce de Leon teacher arrested for paddling handicapped student

Ryan Leavins, 39, of Ponce de Leon was arrested on Oct. 11 in connection with charges of child abuse after he reportedly paddled a 5-year-old handicapped child. Leavins has since resigned as a teacher, according to the superintendent's office.

Published: Friday, October 18, 2013 at 04:49 PM.

BONIFAY — Deputies arrested a Ponce de Leon teacher for paddling a 5-year-old handicapped student on Oct. 11, according to a news release from the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office.

Arrested was Ryan Leavins, 39, of Ponce de Leon on charges of child abuse, according to the sheriff's office. Leavins was a teacher at Ponce de Leon Elementary School.

The investigation started on Sept. 4 when the sheriff’s office received a report of an alleged child abuse at the Ponce de Leon Elementary School. 

Police discovered that Leavins had paddled a five-year-old handicapped student, resulting in bruising to the child’s bottom.

Leavins admitted to spanking the child after the child became unruly in class, according to the release.

 “The safety and security of our students is our highest priority,” said Superintendent Eddie Dixon on Wednesday. “It is unfortunate that the situation occurred; however it is important to note that the district is following standard procedure and board policy throughout this investigative process.”

In accordance with state law, the case was turned over to the Department of Children and Families as well as the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office for investigation, Dixon said. On Oct. 11 Dixon was notified of the formal charges brought against the employee, according to the release from the superintendent’s office. The school district is engaged with legal counsel throughout this ongoing investigation.

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