Whitefish Bay — Cumberland Elementary head custodian Jeff Yost has been switched to second shift while a child abuse charge against him is pending in court.
According to a Milwaukee County Circuit Court criminal complaint, Yost struck his 17-year-old stepson while the two of them, and Yost's wife, Katherine, were arguing over "some items of drug paraphernalia" that Yost had found in the boy's room.
Yost has been a district employee since March 1992. According to Superintendent Laura Myrah, district staff were immediately aware of the charge against Yost and have reviewed the case with police, Yost and the school's attorney.
Yost has since been switched to the second shift and is "avoiding any direct contact with students," Myrah said. The Cumberland Elementary school day ends at 3:15 p.m. and the second shift begins at 3 p.m.
"We are confident no threat exists to our students," Myrah said in a statement, "but have made appropriate scheduling modifications so that Mr. Yost is working second shift while the charge is pending."
Myrah added in a later email: "Administration will maintain the second shift schedule of Mr. Yost until the time new or differing information arises that would indicate a change in that status."
Yost did not respond to requests for comment.
According the criminal complaint, filed Feb. 20:
Katherine was extremely emotional on Feb. 18 due to the death of her mother earlier that day. Yost's stepson heard him and Katherine arguing over the drug paraphernalia that he had allegedly found in the boy's room. The boy intervened in the argument, after which Yost "squared off" on him and struck his face "with a closed fist several times, causing pain."
Yost allegedly pushed the boy against a wall while choking him. A police officer noted visible marks on the boy's face and blood on his front teeth.
Yost told police he might have hit the boy lightly as he was trying to make him "leave the situation alone," and said he might have hit the boy while defending himself. He also denied choking the boy, but said he might have hit his throat while pushing him away.
Child abuse is a Class H felony and carries a maximum fine of $10,000, a maximum prison sentence of six years, or both.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 12. Since the charges were filed, Jeff Yost has filed for divorce.
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