Sheriff's deputies arrested a Northern California mother for allegedly grabbing a fifth grader by the throat after her son pointed him out as the student who was bullying her younger daughter.
Delia Garcia-Bratcher was booked Saturday into Sonoma County Jail on a felony charge of inflicting injury on a child a day after deputies took her into custody at Olivet Elementary Charter School in Santa Rosa.
"It's terrible when this kind of thing happens," Piner-Olivet Union School District Supt. Jennie Snyder said Monday morning. "Incidents like these are very rare."
Garcia-Bratcher was released on $30,000 bail. Attempts to reach her early Monday were unsuccessful. A number listed for her was disconnected.
The Sonoma County District Attorney's Office on Monday said that Garcia-Bratcher did not yet have a scheduled court date.
U.S. & World
Stories that affect your life across the U.S. and around the world.
Snyder said she will work to prevent Garcia-Bratcher from stepping onto the campus again, and that she was not aware of any bullying allegations. Now that she is aware, she said, she will "investigate fully."
The arrest came after a Sonoma County Sheriff's deputy went to the school on Willowside Road following a report of "child abuse."
When the deputy got there, school staff said a child had been "reportedly assaulted by a parent."
Lt. Steve Brown told NBC Bay Area that a child heard the mother say to the 12-year-old boy, "Don't bully my little girl. This is your warning. Next time I'll tell," before allegedly wrapping her fingers around his throat. She had entered campus at lunchtime, the deputy wrote in his report, without signing in.
According to the deputy, Garcia-Bratcher asked her son to identify the child who had been bullying her daughter. Deputies say she allegedly grabbed the student by the throat in front of many other students, including her own son. No adults witnessed the assault, the deputy said. The deputy did not detail what the alleged bullying was about. And later in the day, the sheriff's office issued a statement that "we were unable to find any nexus between the two students and are unable to determine if any bullying ever occurred between the two."
Brown would not say whether Garcia-Bratcher had a criminal history. But he did confirm that her father, Frank Bratcher, died in January after his body was found in the Russian River. He had recently been released from jail, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
The fifth grade boy sustained red marks consistent with being grabbed in the neck, the deputy said. The injuries were immediately photographed by school staff.
Parents at the school were upset with the allegations - many of them learned about it on Monday when they arrived on campus.
"It's kind of scary," said Mariam Padilla, who has a kindergartener at the school. "To harm another child is unacceptable. No, I don't know the situation, but I don't know what she was thinking."
Amanda Navarro said she didn't know what to make of the news.
"I don't know how you could put your hands on another child," she said. "But bullying is not acceptable."
Overall, Navarro said she believes Olivet is a "very good school" and this appears to be a "random" albeit "shocking" incident.
The school district's website touts "personal integrity," "productive collaboration" and "effective communication" as some of its "cornerstone" qualities.