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Teacher Tossed Over Reported Closet Punishment

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – At Broward County's Paul Turner Elementary School, a child allegedly suffered a traumatic punishment Wednesday.

"She got locked in the closet by her teacher," said Leipzib Diaz, the mother of the 5-year-old kindergarten student.

Diaz says her daughter was locked in a dark closet at the school by teacher Jayenote Brooks, punishment for taking the teacher's eraser.  The mom learned of it in a call from the school's principal.

"I couldn't believe what happened. I was shocked that he did that to my daughter," the mother told CBS4 News.

The mother said the principal told her the little girl was freed from the closet after having been forgotten by the teacher.  A teacher's aide found the girl and let her out.

"She's definitely scared, she's been acting like a baby," the mother said of her daughter. "She cries at night. She comes to my bedroom. She's scared."

The Broward schools system confirmed Friday the teacher, Brooks, was physically escorted off the property Thursday and is no longer teaching.

The principal has learned that at least three other children may have been subjected to the same draconian punishment, shut away in the closet.

The Lauderhill Police Department's special victims unit is investigating the case, along with the Broward Schools Police Department.

"We don't have any word yet whether charges will be brought, but I suspect if this is determined to be child abuse, charges will be brought," said attorney Chris Wigand, representing the five-year-old's family.

The school system issued a statement saying it is cooperating with the police investigation and that the principal is in "communication with families."

No one answered the door at the teacher's home on Friday. At the school, parents were in the dark about the dark closet affair.

Parent Charese Bora learned of it from CBS4 News.

"That's disturbing," Bora said.  "When you tell me that, I can't believe that's happening here."

The mother of the little girl from Wednesday's incident said a broad alarm should be sounded.

"I want to make sure that every parent knows and is aware of the situation," the mother said, adding who knows how many children may have been shut in a closet.

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