ROSENBERG – One mother of a child with a disability is calling for action after she received multiple videos from the district, which she said shows her son being physically and verbally mistreated during the 2018-2019 school year. Her family released the videos publicly and are now hoping for change that prevents these types of situations from happening again.
“The videos that have been released are heartbreaking, to say the least,” the mother, who identified herself as April, said.
At a news conference Tuesday, the mother of the student stood alongside her attorney, special needs student advocates and supporters outside the administration building for the Lamar Consolidated Independent School District.
“When my son was first diagnosed with a disability, at the age of 2, I vowed to be the voice for him and all the other children that aren’t able to speak for themselves. They will be heard today,” April said. “He has a limited vocabulary, and he communicates at a 2- to 3-year-old level. Because of this we will never know the effects of what he experienced at the hands of this teacher.”
The instances on video occurred sometime during the 2018-2019 school year, according to the family’s attorney, Sam Wesley.
“We want to work with the schools," said Sam Wesley, the family’s attorney. "We want to work with whomever wants to work with us. We want people who are going to have the same mind and who are going to provide the same love for these kids because they deserve it.”
In one of the videos, a teacher is depicted kicking the student and forcibly moving the student towards the wall. Another video shows the teacher throwing the student’s desk and objects and making the student pick them up multiple times. Another video shows the student being threatened. April was able to get the videos after she said she received a tip from someone about the alleged incidents.
“It’s unacceptable that, in these videos, this woman gets so angry," said Karen Mayer Cunningham, a special education student advocate. “Adults stand around and do nothing.”
Cunningham said the student had a comprehensive Individualized Education Program, which detailed how the student learns best and how teachers should interact with students. The goal is to have the student achieve academically to their fullest potential. Cunningham and Wesley believe that the IEP was “breached.”
"You would see her flat out disregarding everything," Wesley said.
Houston rapper Trae tha Truth, was also at Tuesday’s news conference. The rapper shared the videos on his social media, helping them go viral.
“I’ve got a voice," Trae the Truth said. "I (have) got a platform. I’ve got to speak up.”
Felicia Alexander-Branch, a mother from Port Arthur, said she saw the rapper’s post and traveled to support the news conference.
“You can’t treat someone inhumane just because they’re special needs because they have to function just like everyone else in society, and that’s what made me travel two hours to come support Miss April,” Alexander-Branch said.
The mother said she is pushing for a better, more thorough hiring process for teachers, more resources and funding for special needs programs, more surveillance in classrooms and for more resources for parents to take legal action if this happens again.
“I do not want what happened to my son to simply be forgotten," April said. "I want change.”
April’s child goes to George Ranch High School and is thriving, according to his mother. There is a new principal at the high school. The teacher in question resigned last year, according to LCISD.
Wesley said there will be a public hearing on the matter from Jan. 21-23 in the training room at the LCISD Service Center at 4901 Avenue I in Rosenberg.
Wesley said the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office is hoping to file misdemeanor charges after their attempts for felony charges were “no-billed.”