YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Parents of the 4-year-old student pictured being dragged by a preschool teacher down the hallway of Wilson School in Youngstown are speaking out. That image gained national attention and cost the teacher her job.
The young boy’s parents claim their son complained about his Alta Head Start teacher Jenn Lohr, even before the photo was taken.
Stevelyn Jackson and Lawrence Brooks got a phone call last week that no parent ever wants to get — about an incident involving their child at school.
“He told me that he’ll keep me informed about what was going on, and he had statements from people, and he just kept apologizing about the whole incident that had happened,” Jackson said.
Even more heartbreaking was when these parents first saw the photo on social media.
“I just feel like that was disrespectful to post a picture like that without consulting the parents,” Brooks said.
Jackson said when she went to the school the next day to talk to the principal, he never mentioned the photo.
“These parents deserve answers and I’m going to ensure they get them. Answers as to why Alta’s contract was canceled, answers as to was this a single incident? We have reason to believe this child was dragged more than once,” Attorney Dave Betras said.
In the weeks leading up to this incident, the pair said their son — who once loved going to school — was suddenly scared and didn’t want to go. That’s when they said their parental intuition kicked in.
Lawrence said he even sat in his son’s class for a week straight, trying to figure out what was going on. He remembers an instance when his son was disciplined during breakfast.
“He gets up from the table in the morning time from breakfast and she was kinda like, ‘Lawrence, sit down!’ And I was like, ‘You don’t have to talk to him that aggressive.’”
They said the photo just confirmed what they already thought.
“For a while, us going up there and him saying different things about not wanting to go to school and just wanting a new school,” Jackson said. “I mean, it was evidence to what we thought was going on. We were sure, but we knew something was going on with him.”
Betras said since word of this incident got out, three other parents have contacted him.
“This must be a bigger problem than anyone suspected,” he said.
Youngstown City Schools said Lohr was asked not to return to their school. Then Alta Behavioral Health, which runs the preschool out of the Youngstown building, fired her.