After-school daycare worker terminated, charged with punching child in face

BURKE COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - A man who worked for an after-school program at a Burke County elementary school was terminated after he was accused of punching a child in the face on Monday.

According to the Burke County Sheriff's Office, 49-year-old Crawford Lionel Ellis reportedly hit a 9-year-old with his fist at Icard Elementary School. Deputies say Ellis worked as a part-time daycare worker in the school's after-school program.

The boy who was allegedly hit, Jeffrey Hyler, says he and others were weeding a planter and throwing some dirt around.

"We were all laughing," he said.

Jeffrey says Ellis, who was watching them, was not happy.

"I threw one over my shoulder and it went beside his foot and he said, 'throw another and I will hit you.'"

Jeffrey says he thought Ellis was just kidding. Moments later, he says, Ellis struck him on the side of the face with a fist.

School officials were alerted immediately. They said that Ellis was fired on the spot. He later went before a magistrate where he was charged with misdemeanor assault of a child under 12. He was freed on a written promise to show up for his court date in November.

A school spokesperson released this statement:

"Parents were informed of the incident. Hitting a child is never acceptable at Burke County Public Schools. We take the wellbeing and safety of our students very seriously and will not tolerate such behavior."

Ellis was charged with assaulting a child who is under the age of 12. His first court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 1.

Jeffrey's mom, Angela Hyler, says she thinks Ellis should be behind bars.

Ellis has worked with the school system since 2005.

WBTV went to his home in Hickory looking for a response to the allegations but no one was home.

Angela says she is hoping the courts will punish him, but she also wants something else - an apology for hitting Jeffrey.

"It shouldn't happen to any child," she said.

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