In August, Meredith Leigh Burgess started the school year as a kindergarten teacher at Hill Elementary, entering her ninth year of teaching in the Arlington school district.
Today, Burgess isn't teaching anywhere.
The 34-year-old Coppell woman is accused of slapping the arm of a kindergarten student who had his hand down the front of his pants in her classroom in November.
The day before, Burgess had thumped the head of the student for doing the same thing, her attorney says.
Her actions were reported to school officials, who placed her on leave and began an investigation, and police later issued a citation accusing her of offensive or provocative physical contact, a Class C misdemeanor.
She makes her first court appearance Monday on the citation, which carries a maximum fine of $500, according to Arlington court records.
The police "were wrong. They should not have issued her a citation," Burgess' attorney Lex Johnston said. "The Arlington Police Department is trying to make the school district policy [a] law. It is not."
The school district prohibits corporal punishment. The policy states "students shall not be spanked, paddled or subjected to other physical force as a means of discipline for violations of the student code of conduct."
The parents of the child could not be reached for comment. Arlington school district spokeswoman Leslie Johnston said in an email that the district couldn't comment on the specifics of a personnel matter. She did say the teacher later resigned from the district.
Police, when asked about it, referred to the citation. Authorities did not release any additional information because the case involves a juvenile.
Referring to the citation, Burgess' attorney noted that the Texas Penal Code says the use of force, but not deadly force, against a person is justified "if the actor is entrusted with care, supervision, or administration of the person for a special purpose; and when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is necessary to further the special purpose or to maintain discipline in a group."
"A slight bit of force was needed to get [the student's] attention," Lex Johnston said. "She cannot be prosecuted."
Burgess' teaching certificate shows it's valid until January 2019, according to Texas Education Agency records.