POJOAQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A northern New Mexico educator is now charged with child abuse for the way he reprimanded an elementary school student.

On May 12, a Santa Fe County Deputy responded to Pojoaque Elementary School regarding allegations of an instructional assistant washing a student’s mouth out with soap the day before. According to the police report, a staff member at the school witnessed the incident between the educator, 19-year-old Salomon Sanchez Roybal, and a 7-year-old student with autism.

The witness said the student was mad at Sanchez Roybal and was yelling cuss words. According to the report, Sanchez Roybal told the student, “If you say a bad word again, I’m going to wash your mouth out with soap.” That’s when the student allegedly replied with three more bad words.

The witness told police, Sanchez Roybal grabbed the student’s arms, took him to a sink, and restrained him. As the student told him to stop, Sanchez Roybal said again, “I’m going to wash your mouth out with soap.”

According to documents, the witness said he did just that and rubbed soap and water in the student’s mouth. All the while the witness said they heard the student gargling water and soap being “forced” in the student’s mouth as the 7-year-old told the teacher to stop. 

The witness said after this happened, Sanchez Roybal told the kid, “We’re not going to say any more bad words,” as the student crawled underneath a desk and cried.

The police report mentioned Sanchez Roybal admitted he may have taken things too far and apologized for his actions. In an interview with police, he said the student allegedly hit him and tried biting him.

The Pojoaque Valley School District said Sanchez-Roybal was immediately removed from the classroom after the allegations. According to the district, he will not be returning to any Pojoaque Valley School District classroom.