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Poudre School District paraprofessional arrested for allegedly hitting kindergartner with disabilities

School bus
Posted at 2:50 PM, May 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-25 16:50:51-04

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — A Poudre School District paraprofessional was arrested Wednesday for allegedly hitting a kindergartner with disabilities "on several occasions," according to Fort Collins Police Services (FCPS).

The police department was notified by the district on Tuesday of a possible assault by a paraprofessional who rides the school buses. School resource officers began an investigation and viewed surveillance video from the bus.

According to Fort Collins police, the video showed the paraprofessional — identified as Tyler Zanella, 36 — hitting the victim — a kindergartner who has disabilities — on several occasions.

The kindergartner from Shepardson STEM Elementary School was allegedly struck by Zanella on April 25, May 19 and May 22.

Zanella was arrested Wednesday for three counts of crimes against an at-risk juvenile, three counts of third-degree assault, and three counts of child abuse — knowingly or recklessly. He was booked into the Larimer County Jail.

“I’m grateful for the swift and thorough investigation by our School Resource Officers and the Poudre School District to prevent the suspect from continuing these reprehensible actions,” said Sergeant Andy Ferraro, who oversees the Fort Collins Police School Resource Officer Team, in a statement.

According to a letter to parents obtained by Denver7, Zanella was hired at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year and has been terminated by the district. Zanella will not be eligible for reemployment and additional staff will ride on the bus through the rest of the school year, the district said.

FCPS believes there may be additional victims. Anyone with information about this case or other incidents involving Zanella is asked to call Officer Dexter Rowe at 970-472-3705.