Elementary School Teacher Defends Actions After Being Charged With Child Kidnapping
Nov 21, 2019, 8:01 PM | Updated: 8:31 pm
WEST JORDAN, Utah — An elementary school teacher charged with kidnapping a child from her own school spoke out for the first time Thursday, saying she’s not a kidnapper and was trying to get a sobbing 6-year-old girl safely home.
Amy Martz, who has 24 years of education experience including being a principal for 13 years, said the Sept. 4 incident was a complete misunderstanding.
“I did not kidnap a child. I followed a clearly distraught child as she left the school ground. I felt she was not safe traveling alone,” said Martz as she read a statement to the media in her attorney’s office in Salt Lake. “My whole life has been about serving and helping children. I’m a rule follower. I stay safely on the side of policy and law it’s been my job for 24 years as a teacher, as a principal, as a lawyer to children.”
Along with teaching, Martz is also a lawyer and runs a legal practice. She said there was no reason for her to be charged with child kidnapping, a first-degree felony charge that could put her in prison for the rest of her life.
Martz said the school day had just ended at Fox Hollow Elementary School when she noticed the distraught child wanting help. She said she grabbed the student’s hands and walked past the buses.
“As we passed the busses I asked do you take the bus? She shook her head, ‘no.’ As we passed the parent drop off zone I asked, ‘does your mom pick you up here?’ She shook her head ‘no.’ She pulled me by the hand to the crosswalk. She nodded still bawling,” Martz read in a statement. “We traveled on the main road heading south at each fork in the road I stopped and said, ‘Which way home?’ She would point confidently and said this way home…I finally realized this cute girl had no idea where she was going. I stopped at the first house we came to. We stayed on the porch and I asked the family if I could use a cell phone. I immediately called the school. I did say I’ve gotten myself into a bit of a pickle. I take responsibility and regret that the child’s parents were frightened. I was only keeping her safe.”
But Chief Deputy Jeff Hall with the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office told KSL TV on Tuesday after the charges had come out that Martz crossed the line when she went off school property.
“The teacher took the student by the hand and rather than doing the several things that appear to be in policy the teacher took the child off campus and they were gone for quite a while,” he said.
Martz’s attorney said she could have been disciplined another way.
“I’m shocked, I’m shocked [by the charges],” said attorney Cara Tangaro. “This could have been handled with discipline through the school. It could have been handled administratively. An unlawful detention is a class B misdemeanor that probably could have fit this situation.”
Martz said she hopes the district attorney’s office will see her true intent and reconsider.
“I plead with the prosecutor to drop the charges against me,” she said. “I acted responsibly. I provided protection to a child.”