Former Abilene ISD teacher arrested for allegedly biting autistic student

Kirsten Joelle Barnett, a 25-year-old Abilene ISD, was arrested during April 2017 for allegedly biting a 4-year-old autistic student.

By Natalie Martinez, Jamie Burch & Doug Myers/KTXS News

ABILENE, Texas - A former Abilene ISD teacher is accused of biting a 4-year-old autistic student.

Kirsten Joelle Barnett, 25, was arrested Tuesday and charged with injury to a child, a third-degree felony. She has been released on $5,000 bond.

According to police, a teacher's aide at Locust Early Childhood Center reported on Feb. 1 that she saw Barnett put the child in a "restraining hold" and then bite him on the face by his ear. The biting allegedly occurred after the child had refused to follow her instructions.

The teacher's aide and another worker both reported seeing a "swollen bite mark on his cheek," a police report said.

Barnett resigned April 7. She has declined to comment.

KTXS reached out to Abilene ISD about the biting incident and Barnett's status.

The district released a statement, declining to go on-camera:

"When the allegations first came to the school's attention, administrators acted swiftly to report the incident to the Abilene Police Department," Superintendent David Young said in a statement. "The teacher was immediately placed on leave during the course of the police investigation and has not returned to the classroom or interacted with students again.

"She has subsequently resigned from the Abilene Independent School District. The safety of our students is our top priority, and we are grateful for the immediate reporting by witnesses and for the cooperation from the Abilene Police Department."

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