A teaching aide who was brutally beaten by a 6’6″ teen student is a ‘humble’ mom-of-two whose son attends the same high school, it has been revealed.
Joan Naydich, 57, of Palm Coast, Florida, was thrown to the ground and knocked unconscious by an unidentified teen student on Tuesday at Matanzas High School after she took away his Nintendo Switch.
The mother-of-two has a son Morgan, a senior, who attends the high school and a daughter who graduated in 2013. She has worked for Flagler County Schools since 2004 and has worked at Matanzas since 2021.
‘Joan is humble, never asks for help and needs our love/support during this difficult time,’ friend and fellow parent, Jessica White Leon, wrote on GoFundMe. ‘I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Joan through our kids’ bowling team for Matanzas HS for the last six years!’
Flagler County deputies found Naydich with ‘severe’ injuries after she was hit by the student at least 15 times. She was transported to a local hospital for treatment. It is unclear if she is still in the hospital.
Sheriff Rick Staly told WESH 2: ‘This could have been a homicide.’
The student, who is special needs, was arrested and charged with a juvenile felony for aggravated battery with bodily harm, which faces up to five years. He is currently in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.
In surveillance footage, released by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, the hulking student can be seen rushing up to Naydich before launching her across the room, her body flying several feet.
She hits the ground head-first, rendering her unconscious. The special needs student immediately begins kicking Naydich before kneeling down to punch her in the head and torso.
Another woman runs up to the student and grabs his arm, but is unable to pull him off the aide before several others rush to drag him off her. Even after they manage to push him to the ground, he still reaches his leg out to hit Naydich a few more times.
It takes five staff members to restrain and drag him away from her body as he fought against them.
The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office found Naydich with ‘severe injuries’ and she was transported to the hospital for treatment.
The teen claimed he would ‘beat her up every time she takes away his game,’ and spat on Naydich as deputies escorted him away, according to the arrest report.
In bodycam footage, the student can be seen asking officers if he is ‘going to jail,’ while they handcuff him in the school.
‘For how long?’ the students asked.
‘I don’t know,’ the officer replied.
Moments later he told officers: ‘F**k you, I don’t want to go to jail. I have more important things to do,’ before accusing them of manhandling him.
Staly called the ordeal ‘absolutely horrendous and completely uncalled for.’
‘We hope [Naydich] will be able to recover, both mentally and physically, from this incident,’ he said in a statement. ‘Our schools should be a safe place – for both employees and students.’
Flagler Schools Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt agreed, saying: ‘Creating a safe learning and working environment on our campuses is critical. Violence is never an appropriate reaction.’
The Flagler School Board did say at a meeting after the event that they have made it a ‘high priority’ to go over policy to ‘help with this.’
After the attack, Mental Health Advocate, Sue Urban – whose 17-year-old son Nicholas graduated from Matanzas High School before taking his own life – responded to the incident, claiming it wasn’t ‘his fault,’ despite swift backlash.
‘This is not this child’s fault. He is not a threat,’ Urban said in an emotionally Facebook Live.
‘This is a mental health issue. This is a problem with our system, it is broken.’
Urban, who also has a stepson in the same behavioral wing as the boy in the video, told DailyMail.com on Friday that the special wing is for ‘children that are not in the general population of the high school,’ and that her son and the boy were ‘school friends’ in separate classes.
She also told DailyMail.com that the child lived in a group home and his mother did not live in Flagler County, which a faculty member told her at the school board meeting on Wednesday night.
‘That child should not have been transported to jail, he should have been transported to a mental health facility,’ she said on Facebook Live.
‘Please stop labeling this child as a monster. Yes, his size is a big factor, [but] he did not know he was doing wrong.
‘These kids are given extra attention in those classes. They are given leeway to have these devices, so when they do lose their tempers or if they do get into that mental space, that they can have those Switches or phones or their comfort devices, [so] that they can calm down.’
Despite her strong position, she faced swift backlash, with many claiming the child should be charged as an adult and face jail time.
Kimberly Rosania told DailyMail.com that ‘one of the reasons I’m being so vocal is [their identities have] not been released. I care more about whether an innocent woman than I do a predator.’
She also claimed in a Facebook post that the school board ‘defended this behavior and this animal.’
‘Claiming his disabilities are and should keep him protected, this is insanity! If he was not stable enough to value human life over a $300.00 video game why was he among innocent lives to begin with? Why were those lives less valuable than his education? This a broken system!’
Another woman, Karen Puca, said the video was ‘concerning’ and said she would ‘love to hear how the MHS leadership is handling such nonsense’ – as several have reported there were more fights this week.
Urban confirmed to DailyMail.com that a lot of fights happen at the school and that the school’s leadership needs to do better.
Another, CH Crawley, said: ‘Put him in prison for assault and attempted murder.’