Teacher who ‘bit two students in row over pickles’ claims she only ‘licked’ them

A teacher has been accused of 'biting two students over a jar of pickles' in a bizarre incident.

Special education teacher Rhonda Rice, 63, is facing two misdemeanour battery charges after the bizarre incident in her school's shop.

Last November at Bartow Middle School, Florida, Rice apparently tried to take the jar of pickles from the shop and bit two male students working there when they tried to take it back.

It is unclear whether she was actually stealing the pickles and a spokesperson from Polk County Public School District said she claimed she was just "playing around with the students".

Both students reported the alleged incident and she was suspended from the school three days later.

Rice was consequently relocated to Sleepy Hill Middle School where she remains an "active teacher", according to Polk County Public Schools spokesperson Kyle Kennedy.

Speaking to WFLA Kathy Toro, the aunt of a 15-year-old student involved in the bizarre incident, said: "She just bit them on the forearm and, of course, they released and she was able to get the pickles but there's other ways to do that."

Ms Toro went to Bartow Police Department in November and filed charges against Rice.

Rice has since told police that she 'licked' the students rather than biting them, with Toro adding: "Even if it was and she did lick him, but I don't believe she did, it's still not acceptable to me."

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Jason Geary, another Polk County Public Schools spokesperson, said in a statement: "Although she described her actions as playing around with students, we expect our employees to act professionally and serve as models of mature behaviour.

"They must set a good example for students to follow, and anything less is unacceptable."

Rice is set to be arraigned on March 31.

According to WFLA Rice, who has been a teacher for 22 years in Polk County, has previously been involved in other disciplinary incidents.

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She received a verbal and then a written reprimand in 2001 for failing to prepare for classes at Boone Middle School.

In July 2008 Sleepy Hill Middle School – where she is working now – suspended her for excessively using a work computer for "personal business" when she should have been teaching.

Sleepy Hill Middle School reprimanded her again in March 2015 for "repeated failure to complete a scheduled IEP in a timely manner".

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