Eustis Middle Teacher’s Assistant Arrested for Slapping Student Across the Face because she was “Frustrated.”
EUSTIS, Fla.—A Eustis Middle School employee who worked as both a teacher’s assistant and a family-school liaison was arrested for child abuse after a father reported she slapped his 14-year-old son across the face just before Thanksgiving break began earlier this month and according to Lake County Schools, she has been “alternatively placed in a role with no interaction with students.”
According to an arrest affidavit, on Nov. 17, the principal of EMS contacted the boy’s father and told him Ute Galloway, 61, had slapped his son across the face in front of other students and then pulled the boy aside to apologize to him, the father told police. He said the school’s administration told him they would “handle the situation” and call him at a later time to follow-up, but he never received a call.
Students and employees of Lake County Schools had the following week off and returned to school Monday and the father told a Eustis Police Department school resource officer (SRO) his son told him Galloway was still at the school and it “appeared there were no consequences for her actions,” the affidavit states.
He told the SRO his wife called the school to inquire why Galloway was still at the school and spoke with the principal who reportedly told her he could not go into detail about the investigation or provide what steps the school was taking while Galloway was under investigation, according to the affidavit.
The boy’s father said he was upset and wanted to press criminal charges against Galloway and the SRO told him it was a serious matter, and he would begin investigating it immediately. The SRO pulled video surveillance from the media center on Nov. 17 and observed the boy on his knees near where Galloway was sitting. The boy appeared to be drawing something on a piece of paper when Galloway unexpectedly slapped him on the left side of his face with an open hand.
The SRO called the boy in, and he told him he was playing a game with other students where they would draw parts of a turkey on a piece of paper. Galloway told the students not to look at the outline of the paper while drawing the turkey, but the boy looked at the outline anyway which “frustrated” Galloway. He continued to look at the outline to draw the turkey and Galloway “suddenly smacked” him across the face which shocked him and the students who witnessed it. Galloway immediately pulled him into a room, apologized and said she slapped him out of frustration, he told the SRO.
The SRO then spoke with two students who had similar stories, and one said Galloway told the students she was sorry, and she had slapped the boy out of frustration, “not to make a big deal out of it,” and not to tell anyone what happened.
The SRO did not interview Galloway, because, according to the affidavit, she was “suspended indefinitely from the school.”
Galloway, who has been employed at EMS since August 2022, was arrested for child abuse without great bodily harm at her home in Eustis around 7 p.m. Wednesday and transported to the Lake County Jail, where she was released on $5,000 bond.
Inside Lake reached out to Lake County Schools to inquire about Galloway’s employment status.
“The incident is alleged to have occurred on the morning of Nov. 17, the last day of school for students and teachers prior to the Thanksgiving break. Nov. 27 was the first day back after the break. Galloway reported to work, and Employee Relations (ER) requested information from the school regarding the claim. After receiving the information, Galloway was told to report to ER and was alternatively placed,” LCS Communications Officer Sherri Owens said in an email. “Galloway has been alternatively placed in a role with no interaction with students while we investigate.”