A disturbing story has emerged from Deer Park, Texas, where a teacher has been accused of verbally mocking, taunting and in some cases, abusing children with autism and other special needs. Allegations surfaced back in December at a Deer Park ISD campus, claiming the teacher verbally and physically mistreated her students. Whistleblowers eventually came to the parents with the allegations, claiming that initial attempts to notify school officials fell on deaf ears. Now, the parents of the students want answers.
Kevin Graham, father of one of the children with autism, has called the actions by his son’s teacher "child abuse." He and other parents are pressing for the teacher to be fired, along with a supervisor who failed to take action when the alleged abuse was first reported. Both teachers were moved to other schools after claims were made public and are currently still teaching special education students.
Outraged parents and advocates are accusing Fairmont Junior High School of putting the institution before its students and sweeping the allegations under the rug.
This story is disturbing on many levels and is part of a nationwide trend involving children with autism and other special needs being mistreated by their teachers. Oftentimes, the onus is placed on parents and students to prove their claims and it usually takes a video of the allegations going public before swift action is taken.
Case in point, in November of last year, a shocking video surfaced (posted below) that shows 15-year-old student Julio Artuz being verbally abused and threatened by his teacher, who told Artuz he would kick his a** "from here to kingdom-come." The teacher was eventually fired, but not after public pressure ensued once the video went viral. No one had believed Artuz (including his parents) about the ongoing verbal abuse until he secretly recorded one of the incidents.
Although it has been extensively discussed, there has to be a greater push to install cameras inside of classrooms across the country where special needs students are educated. Until that happens, we will continue to read about these kinds of stories and students with special needs will continue to suffer at the hands of teachers who have no business being around these types of children.
As for the spray bottle teacher and her supervisor, a board meeting will be held in three weeks among Deer Park officials, who will have the authority to overturn the administration’s decision not to fire the teachers.
Let’s hope they do the right thing and protect other special needs students from abuse in the future.