TAES teacher facing malicious punishment of a child charge

A teacher at Tracy Area Elementary School has been charged with fifth-degree assault and malicious punishment of a child after an alleged incident at the school in March, according to court records.

Phy-ed teacher Rick Haberman appeared remotely in Lyon County District Court on Wednesday, June 7.

The criminal complaint alleges Haberman grabbed a student and pushed him against a wall during class when the student disobeyed him and was then told to do pushups. According to the complaint, the student was not doing the pushups correctly.

The student said it was normal for Haberman to make his students do pushups, but it was not normal for him to put his hands on anyone, according to the complaint.

The student showed Tracy Police Chief Jason Lichty a nickel-size bruise on his right arm; there was also a small scratch on his arm, court records said.

Malicious punishment of a child is a gross misdemeanor and carries a $3,000 fine; the fifth-degree assault charge carries a $1,000 fine. Bail was set at $3,000 cash or bond without conditions, or release with conditions, including making all future court appearances, obeying all laws, remaining law abiding and being of good behavior.

In a statement, the Tracy Area School District said, ”The Tracy Area School District is aware that charges have been filed against an elementary school teacher in connection with an incident that occurred this spring. Upon hearing of the allegations, the teacher was promptly placed on administrative leave while the District conducted an investigation, following which the District took appropriate action.”

Haberman was suspended for two days with pay as a result of the alleged incident and remains employed as a teacher.

Additional actions taken by the District are considered private under the Data Practices Act, according to the statement. Tracy Area Public Schools hired outside legal counsel that specializes in school law to conduct the investigation and followed their direction regarding actions taken by the District.

“Our kids remain our No. 1 priority, and we protect them at all costs,” Tracy Area Public Schools Supt. Chad Anderson told the Tracy Area Headlight Herald.

Besides his teaching duties, Haberman is also the Tracy-Milroy-Balaton head varsity volleyball and boys’ basketball coach.

Haberman’s next court appearance is scheduled for July 18.