A woman and mother of five living in France was sentenced by a French court to serve one year of jail time for slapping one of her children’s principal in the face, according to a report from French news service the Local .

The punishment handed down to the woman, identified as 28-year-old Elizabeta Elmaz, has been criticized for being unusually harsh and the result of dozens of teachers protesting outside of the courthouse during the trial.

The incident between the mother and principal reportedly took place in March 2017 at a school in the town of Mably, near the Roanne commune. Elmaz claimed to have noticed a bump on her daughter's head and confronted the principal about it.

The situation between the mother and principal became heated, and Elmaz reportedly slapped the principal multiple times and pulled her hair during the altercation. Elmaz claimed in court that the slap was an act of self-defense performed after the principal hit her, but witnesses, including teachers and students on school grounds at the time, refuted the story.

During the trial, Elmaz—a Romani woman from the Republic of Kosovo—was not provided a translator by the court despite requests from her lawyer, forcing her husband to step in and perform the task for her.

The trial drew the attention of some local teachers, who gathered outside of the courthouse and demonstrated during the trial. The teachers sought to encourage the court to make an example of the woman.

The court made good on the requests of the protesting teachers and issued a punishment of one year behind bars for Elmaz. The jail is located at the outskirts of Saint-Etienne—nearly 60 miles from Mably, the town where she lives with her husband and five children.

French news outlet Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported Elmaz's lawyer, Hugues Roumeau, called the sentence "absurd" and accused the court of giving in to the pressure applied by the teachers.

The principal involved in the incident was reportedly shocked by the ruling and did not expect the punishment to be as harsh. "She didn't expect that, she wanted the court to recognise the harm caused but not for a mother to be sent to prison," the principal's lawyer told AFP.

Elmaz recently gave birth to the youngest of her five children and is reportedly still breastfeeding the child. Elmaz's lawyer has yet to state if they intend to appeal the ruling.