NewsDeSoto, Highlands, Hardee County


38-year-old paraprofessional arrested for abusing 2 students at elementary school, deputies say

Handcuffs generic.jpg
Posted at 8:05 PM, Apr 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-29 20:05:33-04

AVON PARK, Fla. — A 38-year-old paraprofessional at an elementary school in Highlands County was arrested for abusing two students, the sheriff's office said.

The Highlands County Sheriff's Office said Cynthia Heiss was arrested Thursday, April 29, and charged with two counts of child abuse.

Deputies said the incident happened April 21 in an Exceptional Student Education (ESE) pre-kindergarten classroom at Park Elementary in Avon Park.

Another employee reported Heiss got angry with two students who would not calm down to her satisfaction. Deputies said she force-fed a packet of jelly to one student while holding his mouth closed until he swallowed it. She also stuffed tissue in the other student's mouth and held his mouth closed for several seconds, deputies said.

The students, ages 3 and 4, did not suffer any injuries.

The incident was reported to school administration the next day and Heiss was immediately placed on administrative leave while the investigation was ongoing.