NORWALK - A former special education teacher at Dwight Elementary School was arrested this week and now faces criminal charges.

Elizabeth Valeriay, 53, is charged with "cruelty to persons" for allegedly making a 6-year-old student with autism take her shirt off.

According to Fairfield police, the teacher was conducting a math assessment with the girl when the student became distracted by the stripes on her shirt. Police say the teacher reprimanded the student by removing her shirt.

Police say no one else was in the classroom during the incident, which occurred in October. However, a teacher's aide walked in and reported it to administrators. Valeriay was then fired.

Meanwhile, the girl's father notified police who conducted their own investigation. "We found probable cause to make an arrest and felt it was necessary to do so," says Sgt. James Perez, of the Fairfield Police Department.

Police say Valeriay, who taught in the Fairfield School District for 13 years and has a master's degree in special education, was taught to remove a distraction when it becomes a problem.

Valeriay is due in court next Friday. Her attorney had no comment.