Stewart Elementary School teacher put on leave after arrest for slapping girl, 9

Karl Nicholas, 63, charged with injury to child

SAN ANTONIO – Karl Nicholas, a long-time teacher at Stewart Elementary School, has been placed on leave pending the outcome of an investigation into claims that he slapped a third-grade student across the face. 

Nicholas was arrested Thursday on a charge of injury to a child following an investigation by police with the San Antonio Independent School District.

Spokeswoman Leslie Price said the school district took immediate action after learning of the allegations.

"This is a very serious offense," Price said. "We did move very quickly to remove him from the classroom and, that day, he was notified that he was being placed on leave."

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, a 9-year-old girl complained to a school secretary Monday, saying she was in pain.

The affidavit stated that the student said Nicholas had "slapped her face hard" and grabbed her by the arm after she accidentally hit him on the hand.

The girl told investigators Nicholas was scolding her at the time for arguing with another student.

She said she bent down to retrieve a pencil she had dropped and accidentally hit Nicholas when she got up, the affidavit stated.

Although she apologized, the girl said, Nicholas did not believe her and slapped her across the face, the affidavit stated.

According to the affidavit, Nicholas initially refused to make a statement to the principal, instead saying he planned to resign because he knew that he was "going to jail."

Later, he admitted to investigators that he had slapped the child, the affidavit stated.

"I can say that an offense of this type would warrant termination. But we have a process that we go through," Price said.

In the meantime, the school district has sent letters home to parents and called them on the phone to inform them of what happened.

Some parents heard the news while dropping off their children for classes Friday morning.

"It's kind of shocking, really," said Elizabeth Gonzales. "That's not his child, for one. And for two, they're not even supposed to put their hands on them at all."

Jesse Garza said he might resort to violence, himself, if a teacher hurt any of his children.

"I'd probably be in jail with the teacher right now," Garza said. "I don't know the teacher but I don't think he has any right hitting the child."

Phyllis Flores said she has known Nicholas for many years and finds the claims hard to believe.

She said Nicholas, who has worked at Stewart Elementary for the past 16 years, was a good teacher and friend to all of her grandchildren.

"He's a good man," Flores said. "I mean, I had a grandson that was a problem child. But Mr. Nicholas could calm him down all the time. He would even take him bowling. ... I don't believe that he would slap one of the kids."

For a list of recent stories Katrina Webber has done, click here.