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      Hartsville teacher's certificate suspended following arrest

      The South Carolina State Board of Education has suspended Augustine Benton's teaching certificate.

      She was charged with five counts of Assault and Battery Third Degree last month on accusations she grabbed and shoved several of her students at North Hartsville Elementary School.

      The students say they suffered pain and discomfort.

      The Hartsville Police Department was contacted by the district in March, and responded to the school to talk with the principal in reference to accusations she had assaulted students.

      Principal Kristi Austin told officers that some students said Benton had been assaulting them throughout the school year, according to the police report.

      The report listed nine victims between the ages of 7 and 9.

      Benton is on paid leave from the Darlington County School District.

      She has taught school for more than 40 years, according to the state board.

      The State Board of Education says it has reason to believe, due to the serious nature of the allegations of misconduct, Benton may pose a threat to the health, safety and welfare of students and that emergency action is required.

      The board suspended Benton's certificate until a due process hearing is held and/or the matter is otherwise resolved.