5th-grader loses consciousness after school employee demonstrates chokehold on Norwalk students

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Monday, March 6, 2023
CT school employee accused of putting 5th-grade students in choke hold
A staff member at a school in Norwalk, Connecticut was arrested after a fifth-grade student lost consciousness after she demonstrated a chokehold.

NORWALK, Connecticut (WABC) -- A staff member at a school in Connecticut was arrested after police say a fifth-grade student lost consciousness when she demonstrated a chokehold maneuver.

Stefanie Sanabria, 50, was working as a math coach at Brookside Elementary School back in February when officials say she performed the martial arts move on three students.

"They were demonstrating jujitsu moves to some of the students in the class who had volunteered to do that," Lieutenant Joseph Dinho of Norwalk Police said. "So this was not a call that we usually get every day."

After the student lost consciousness, the school nurse immediately treated the child.

An arrest warrant was issued for Sanabria and she was arrested at her home a week later.

She is facing charges of strangulation, risk of injury to a minor and reckless endangerment, according to police.

Norwalk Public Schools released the following statement, saying that Sanabria has resigned:

"On Friday, Feb. 24, Norwalk Public Schools notified the Norwalk Police Department of an incident at Brookside Elementary School. With the assistance of the Norwalk Police Department, we determined that a teacher was demonstrating defensive holds to students, and a student fainted during that demonstration. Fortunately, the student did not sustain any permanent injury. Ms. Sanabria has resigned her employment with the Norwalk Public Schools. The safety of our students is our first concern, and we immediately investigated the situation involving Ms. Sanabria when it occurred."

Investigators are looking into how a math lesson could have turned into a martial arts class or even a self-defense demonstration, using something as controversial as a chokehold.

In the meantime, parents learning about this say while they don't think any harm was intended, they wonder what this teacher was thinking.

"It just kind of goes to show you, they should not be putting their hands on kids whatsoever," parent Alicia Farrow said.

Sanabria is expected in court on Friday.

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