School employee accused of hitting kindergartner

Paraprofessional Tyler Zanella, 36, is accused of hitting the student on multiple occasions. He is no longer employed with the school district.

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Fort Collins police have arrested a school employee accused of assaulting a student.

Fort Collins Police Services said in a release Wednesday that on Tuesday, the Poudre School District notified them of a possible assault on a student by a paraprofessional who rides the school buses. 

The department’s school resource officers immediately began an investigation in conjunction with the school district. The release said surveillance video from the school bus showed 36-year-old Tyler Zanella hitting the student, a kindergartner with disabilities, on April 25, May 19 and May 22.

On Wednesday, officers arrested Zanella on the following charges:

  • 3 counts of crimes against at-risk juvenile — 3rd-degree assault, a felony
  • 3 counts of 3rd-degree assault, a misdemeanor
  • 3 counts of child abuse — knowingly or recklessly — a misdemeanor

Zanella was booked at the Larimer County jail, police said. 

“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,” Sergeant Andy Ferraro said in a statement. Ferraro oversees the Fort Collins Police School Resource Officer team.

A Poudre School District spokesperson said Zanella, who was hired in August 2022 and worked for Shepardson STEM Elementary School, has been fired and is not eligible for future employment with the school district.

The release said officers have reason to believe there may be additional victims. Anyone with information regarding the case or any other cases involving Zanella is asked to call Officer Dexter Rowe at 970-472-3705.

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