(FOX40.COM) — A Williamson Elementary special education teacher who was accused of hitting a non-verbal autistic student while on duty no longer works for the Folsom Cordova Unified School District.
The district confirmed the teacher’s status on Monday.
The news of the separation comes two months after the student’s parents had a press conference in front of the school to demand more transparency from the district and for the teacher to be fired.
“My son was diagnosed with autism at three,” said Ebone McNeal, the mother of 5-year-old Eceon Graham.
According to his family, Graham is a typical 5-year-old but, he doesn’t talk much, sometimes not at all.
While at work on Sept.13, McNeal said she got a call from an administrator at the Folsom Cordova Unified School District, home to Williamson Elementary, where her son was in school.
McNeal says the administrator told her a teacher hit her son.
“She was holding him down restraining him and she physically slapped him across the face,” McNeal said.
The teacher’s name isn’t mentioned in this story because she has not been criminally charged, but the district says the alleged abuse took place on Sept. 11. It wasn’t reported to administration until a teacher’s aide came forward on Sept. 13.
“It should have been done immediately but it was done two days later and we acted on upon it as soon as possible,” said Dr. Sarah Koligian, the Folsom Cordova Unified School District Superintendent.
Graham’s teacher was placed on administrative leave the same day it was reported to the district, but McNeal said she didn’t find out until Sept. 14, three days after the alleged incident.
During those three days, Graham was in class with his alleged abuser.
Through an open records request to the district, FOX40 obtained emails that show the teacher asked for help from her higher ups days before the alleged incident occurred to get more behavioral support. She wanted assistance to stop students from leaving their work area, climbing on furniture, and pushing.
The district responded in a follow up email on the same day of the alleged abuse. Instead of laying out a lesson plan, they recommended for the teacher to make sure classwork tasks are clear for students to understand, and materials are laid out ahead of time.
One longtime educator says the teacher’s request for support does not excuse her from hitting a child.
“Per training, per district protocol, per the law, the teacher should have not illegally restrained the student,” said Dr. Elysse Versher, a longtime educator and education conflict professional. “The teacher should have maximized routines and procedures to maintain safety and order in the classroom.”
Versher was a school administrator for seven years and an educator for over a decade. She also does private consulting for students and teachers in conflict with school districts.
“We’re all human of course and when there are moments, which as a credentialed teacher, which this teacher was, find themselves overwhelmed and or unable to maintain a safe environment for that, for all of our students, but in particular, our students who are nonverbal – administration should have been called right away,” Versher said. “And by administration, I mean, the vice principal and or the principal who’s technically that teacher’s immediate supervisor. They should have been called right away. They should have been in that classroom right away.”
Since the alleged incident, McNeal has pulled Graham from the class at Williamson and put him in a new school.
In the meantime, the district said with agreement from parents, it moved all of the students from Graham’s class to other existing programs in the district.
“There’s nothing wrong with saying that I can’t handle this job but there is something wrong with the assaulting a child,” McNeal said.
McNeal says she would like to see cameras with a live feed in all special education classrooms, that way, parents can see at any point, what goes on when they can’t be there.
“They can’t tell me what happened. It’s my son’s word against this teacher. And that was what the detective told me at the police department. Well, your son can’t say anything. Your son can’t tell us what happened. So it’s like so my son doesn’t get any justice just because he’s not verbally able to say what happened. There’s other people that witnessed it. You know what I mean? But but if we had that camera footage, we would have been able to say no, you did exactly what that aid said that you did,” McNeal said.
Versher says cameras in the classrooms likely wont be possible but she says there is an answer.
“Follow the law that’s already the law. Do your job,” Versher said. “In referencing again, these emails where the teacher on special assignment that was elected to help this teacher, dropped the ball. They did not do their job. If we all did our job, the K-12 system would run with fidelity.”
To learn more about your child’s teacher Versher says go to ctc.ca.gov,search for educator, type in the teacher’s first and last name and look for your child’s teacher’s adverse record.
Versher also says to keep a paper trail of incidents and document everything.
The district says FCUSD takes student safety very seriously and places a high level of importance on our systems for reporting concerns. This includes regular training for staff to identify and report concerns for student safety so those concerns can be investigated immediately.
The district did not provide some records and reports correlating to the alleged incident and the teacher in question because it said there is an ongoing investigation.