WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The Bartlett Police Department and the Taylor Independent School District are investigating claims that a substitute teacher’s aide at Bartlett Elementary School injured a special education student.
Seven-year-old Zakary Thompson has autism, ADHD and epilepsy. His mother says the second grader has been more attached these days after what Zakary told her happened at school this month.
“His teacher aide put his foot on his chest, his private area and his neck and shoulder area,” explains Melissa Womack, Zakary’s mom. On November 3rd, Zakary came home with bruising and a red mark near his jaw after getting upset in class and being put in the “cool down” room.
“Zakary tried to climb over the half door that they had and that’s when the teacher’s aide had pushed him off,” says Womack.
The mother says her son threw a bottle of hand-sanitizer at the teacher, and then the teacher rubbed it in Zak’s eyes. Medical records from a hospital visit that night, show Zak’s eyes were exposed to chemicals, along with blunt trauma on several parts of his body. It’s now hard for Zak to go back to school for a full day.
“I feel like I’m going to get hurt again,” says Zak.
“He kept asking, ‘why did he do it to me, why did he do it to me?’ And the only answer we had was because he thought he could,” says Alan Thompson, Zakary’s father.
Zak’s parents are now putting their faith in the school district and police to hold this teacher’s aide accountable.
“I would like to see him be locked up for harming a child because no person has a right to touch a child, a special needs child, or any child at all,” said Womack.
According to Womack, the substitute aide has been removed from her son’s class, but she believes he is still with the district. Taylor ISD would not comment on specifics since it’s an ongoing investigation. A spokesperson says they’re “working diligently to address these concerns.”
Womack says she has suggested to the district that they put cameras in her son’s special ed classroom, and the district said they would look into it.
Leander ISD is one of the first local school districts to install the cameras under a new state law. Parents of special education students can request one in their child’s classroom, but there’s a bit of confusion on whether the district must install them in all rooms that meet the criteria.
The room must be occupied by special ed students for the majority of the school day, and more than half of those students must be identified as special ed.