DA announces no charges after Madison mother claimed teacher ripped out 11-year-old's braids

MADISON -- Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne announced Tuesday, March 5 the case involving an incident at Whitehorse Middle School in Madison will not move forward, according to our partners at WMTV.

“In this case, I do not believe a crime was committed," said Ozanne.

On Feb. 13, according to WMTV, a teacher at Whitehorse Middle School was accused of pushing an 11-year-old girl who is African-American down -- ripping out her braids.

Mikiea Price, the girl’s mother, spoke with WMTV about the incident Tuesday morning -- calling for the arrest of the teacher under investigation. Price said she saw video from inside the school, which she said showed the teacher physically assaulting her daughter. She said she felt as though officials with every department that was a part of this investigation told her some other agency failed.

Price's pastor spoke with her at the press conference. He called what happened after the incident failure all the way around, and said she was slapped in the face by the system, saying school officials failed to call police and Child Protective Services afterwards.

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval issued this statement:

"Those of us in policing who have made a commitment to being guardians to the community are particularly vigilant whenever a child is  involved as a potential victim. Truly, children represent the most vulnerable and voiceless among us and it is only appropriate that affirmative steps are taken in a timely manner to ensure a child’s safety and to seek appropriate consequences for those who would do harm to a child, who does not have the capacity to challenge an adult in a position of authority.

That said, we balance our natural inclination to defend our kids with the obligations of being an officer of the court, pledged to ensuring that investigations are thorough, objective, and that constitutional protections of fundamental fairness and due process are adhered to in our system of justice.

Mindful of the various interests that must be balanced in any potential criminal case, the Madison Police Department conducted a thorough investigation into the incident that occurred at Whitehorse Middle School (218 Schenk St) on February 13. MPD personnel and subject matter experts interviewed multiple witnesses (including staff and students), examined video and reviewed Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) policy and training guidelines. At the completion of the investigation, all reports and investigative materials were provided to the Dane County District Attorney’s Office for review.

State law allows school personnel to physically restrain a student under certain circumstances.

The MMSD employee involved in this case had been provided training by the District in responding to student behavioral issues, and doing so was one of his primary job functions. The origin of this incident stems from performance of that unique job dimension. MPD’s investigation focused solely on potential criminal violations, and does not address compliance with MMSD policy or procedure.

Due to the community interest in this incident, MPD is releasing redacted reports through a link on our website."

Madison Metropolitan School District officials released a statement on Tuesday morning:

"Schools exist to nurture, uplift, and care for students. Every student should be safe at school. We have fully cooperated with the police investigation and DA’s process. As soon as the criminal process is concluded, we will follow our district protocol and now complete a full administrative review. It’s our responsibility to take all the information available from law enforcement, understand every fact and take appropriate action."

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham of the Madison Metropolitan School District addressed the incident as well as others that have happened this school year in a letter to the community. In that letter, she said that the incident at Whitehorse was quote "especially horrific" and said there was failure on part of the district regardless of what came out of the police investigation.