BERKELEY COUNTY, W.Va. (DC News Now) — Deputies said an elementary school staff member dragged an autistic student who doesn’t speak by the arm and pushed the student into a ball pit.

The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office said the incident happened on Dec. 5 at Opequon Elementary School, located at 395 East Rd. in Martinsburg.

The deputy who serves as school resource officer at another school went to Opequon after receiving a report that a teacher assaulted a student. The deputy spoke to the assistant principal and the mother and reviewed video from the school.

The sheriff’s office said the video showed William F. Hufnagel, the staff member, go into the school’s sensory room where the autistic student was crying. The student walked to a corner of the room. When Hufnagel tried to take him to another area, the student fell to the ground. It was at that point that the video showed Hufnagel drag the boy across the room by the arm and push him in the chest, knocking the student into the ball pit.

The boy crawled out of the ball pit, and Hufnagel can be seen placing him on the ground and removing the student’s shoes. The sheriff’s office added that the boy had a scratch on his side.

The sheriff’s office said the charge against Hufnagel is Assault and Battery of a Disabled Child. He was arrested on Dec. 13.

On Dec. 16, Berkeley County Schools shared a message that the principal of Opequon Elementary School sent to the community. In it, Dr. Krista Ematrudo said Hufnagel was removed from the classroom immediately and placed on administrative leave while the investigation into the incident took place:

Since beginning my tenure as your principal at Opequon Elementary School, one of my main priorities has been to keep the lines of communication open between our staff and families. Because I value the relationships and sense of family we share here at Opequon, I feel it is important that I share some information with you. There may betimes when the news I share could be uncomfortable and this message is an example of such.

On December 5th, a member of our school staff reported an incident involving a staff member and one of our students, to school administration. Immediate action was taken, and a mandated report was filed with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and with the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department. Following Berkeley County Schools procedures, the staff member was immediately removed from the classroom and placed on administrative leave while the incident was investigated.

I have been informed that the staff member under investigation has been charged with assault and battery of a disabled child which is the direct result of the mandated report. It is important for you to know that the parents of all students impacted were notified of the incident by telephone. While I cannot share additional details as this is both a legal and personnel matter, please know that I will continue to put the safety of our students as a top priority.

I take my role as principal very seriously and have a responsibility to maintain the safety and well-being of all students and staff members at Opequon Elementary School. I encourage you to reach out to me directly with your concerns. We have an environment that every child’s safety and well- being is the responsibility of every staff member. It is a common practice that if you see something, you say something and that all allegations are taken seriously.

Your continued support and partnership are greatly appreciated.