A fourth-grade teacher in Los Angeles has been arrested after allegedly placing a plastic bag over a 10-year-old girl's head during class.
Thelmo Garcia, 37, a teacher at Rosewood Elementary School, faces one count of child abuse in the Feb. 5 incident, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.
He was arrested Wednesday at an off-campus location and was being held on $100,000 bail. On Friday, Garcia pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors said Garcia placed the bag over the student's head while in class and then waited. After several seconds, he removed the bag, according to the district attorney's office.
Garcia was removed from the campus last month, according to the Los Angeles Unified School District.
"We take these allegations very seriously," the district said in a statement.
Crisis intervention counselors were on campus Thursday to provide support to students.
Details about when Garcia started working at Rosewood were not immediately available. But according to a Times database of teacher ratings, he taught fourth grade at Breed Street Elementary School in 2010. Based on test scores from 111 students, he was rated as "least effective" in the categories of math and English.
He responded to the rating, saying, "The classrooms that are represented in this data are gifted and advanced students who made little progress because they stayed at the advanced and proficient Range. …
"As a gifted teacher, I find this information inaccurate and libelous, saying I'm ineffective in sustaining and raising student scores on a test that is given only once a year, without taking into consideration the populations and areas I work in, or the students progress throughout the year."
If Garcia is convicted of the charge, he faces up to six years in prison.