Parents upset after they say Houston ISD didn’t contact them about teacher
FOX 26 Reporter Sherman Desselle spoke with the parents who were protesting outside of Almeda Elementary School.
HOUSTON – Parents of special needs students at Almeda Elementary school are outraged after finding out their students were assaulted by their teacher.
Families tell FOX 26 they were contacted on Monday by the school principal, Ian Olmstead, who told them their child’s instructor was terminated and under investigation for assaulting students.
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Greth Plancarte says Olmstead told her the incident involving her 5-year-old child happened Nov. 18 before the Thanksgiving break. She was notified Dec. 2.
There were reports of the former teacher stepping on students, and aggressively pinching them. Her son is non-verbal autistic.
“I asked him why did he wait so long to let us know, and his answer was, “my understanding is that you and your husband are only Spanish speakers,” says Plancarte. “Even if we were Spanish speakers only, your whole staff speaks Spanish.”
Plancarte says she had noticed scratches and bruises on her son, but thought it was because of his hyperactivity associated with autism. The mother also noticed a difference in her son’s behavior prior to this week. She says he would act more apprehensive when the former teacher would approach him.
“They had a great teacher before, and they lost her because she had no help,” says Plancarte. “They brought this lady out of retirement to help, and what does she do? Abuse kids.”
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Courtney Jenkins has a 4-year-old son in the same class, who is also non-verbal autistic. She was contacted by the principal on Dec. 5 about a Dec. 2 incident involving her son and the teacher, who has not been identified by HISD.
“They said the staff member’s foot was on top of my son’s foot,” says Jenkins. “He couldn’t tell if it was forced or malicious. My son didn’t come home the same. He was definitely not himself.”
Jenkins was told there was a witness who reported this incident to administrators. Although the teacher is no longer at Almeda, the parents we spoke to wanted to make sure other families knew about what was happening at the school. They’re also hoping HISD will help to improve the existing special education program.
“Our children are non-verbal,” says Jenkins. “If we don’t speak for them, then who will? There’s no reason that our children should be sent to school to learn things and to develop more, and they’re coming to school getting abused.”
HISD responded to these claims through a statement Friday evening:
HISD takes these situations very seriously, and the safety and well-being of our students is always our absolute top priority. HISD PD was notified of an allegation of misconduct and the educator was immediately relieved of duties. Due to the Family Education Right’s Privacy Act (FERPA) and the pending investigation, HISD will not be providing additional information at this time.
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