A teacher convicted of slapping an autistic student across the face is still drawing a salary, more than two months after being found guilty of assault.

In February 2008, teacher David Merrill Sheffield was in the Bedford Junior High schoolyard talking to a 15-year-old autistic student who also has ADHD and suffers panic attacks. The student waved his mitten and got some salt in Sheffield’s eyes.

Sheffield then reportedly hit the student on the right side of the face with the palm of his hand.


The boy then ran away to find the principal, saying that he would get Sheffield fired.

Sheffield went on paid leave that day and was convicted of assault Oct. 28, 2008. He’ll be sentenced Feb. 13. But the school board hasn’t leveled any sanctions, and Sheffield remains on paid leave.

“I’m not going to be sympathetic with this because he’s a teacher. These special-needs children didn’t ask to be the way they are. And if the teacher cannot restrain from abuse of these children then they should not be in the HRM system,” said the boy’s father, who wished to remain anonymous to protect the identity of his son.

“I’m not going to stop until I see his license revoked.”

Sheffield was charged with an unrelated assault outside the school just six days earlier, and in March was charged with possessing unauthorized firearms.

The elected school board members must vote to fire or suspend a teacher without pay, and the teacher must have advance notice. Board spokeswoman Shaune MacKinlay said there wouldn’t have been enough notice time to do anything about Sheffield’s case at the November board meeting agenda, and there was no meeting in December.

Personnel issues are confidential, but the next time Sheffield could face disciplinary action is the board meeting on Jan. 28.

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