Marysville educators accused of mistreating special needs student

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by HEATHER GRAF / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherGrafK5

KING5.com

Posted on February 27, 2014 at 11:39 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 28 at 6:46 AM

A Marysville teacher and para-educator have been pulled from the classroom as police look into allegations that they abused a special needs student. 

It's the second such case in that school district in less than a year.

Last spring, a teacher and para-educator at Marshall Elementary were accused of putting a special needs child in a time-out room for two hours.

This time, a teacher and para-educator at Kellogg Marsh Elementary are on administrative leave, pending the results of a police and internal investigation.

The mother of a student at that school filed a police report and got an attorney after she says her autistic son came home with his underwear ripped nearly in half, and no explanation from the school as to what happened.

"They need to step up, they need to figure out why it happened and be accountable for why it happened," said Trish Fuerte.

Her 10-year-old son is autistic and doesn't speak or communicate well.  He is in a self-contained fourth grade class at Kellogg Marsh.

"December 18, 2013, I got a call in the afternoon from the secretary at his school, and I could hear screaming in the background," she said.

The school told Trish to send a family member to pick him up, because a substitute bus driver had removed the nearly hysterical child from the bus.

It wasn't until he got home that Fuerte got a glimpse at why he was so upset.  She says the waistband of his underwear had been ripped and was hanging out of his pants as if someone had been pulling on it.

Fuerte said she spent several days trying to get answers from the school and the district, but had no luck.

Finally, she was able to speak to the substitute bus driver.  She said what that driver told her broke her heart.

"She said the teacher was having to pull on him, had to push him up onto the bus, pull him down the aisle, push him into the seat, shove the seat belt on him.  She said, 'honestly I was appalled at the way the teachers were handling him, I felt bad for him,'" said Fuerte.

When she brought that story to school leaders, Fuerte said she was simply told her son had a bad day.

"And I don't accept that.  They're adult, paid professionals, and he at the time was a nine-year-old boy with autism.  It is not his fault," she said.

Since Aiden cannot verbalize exactly what happened that day, his mother his now serving as his voice and pushing for answers.

She says more motivation came when her son saw a therapist, and drew a picture of what he remembered from that December day.  In it, she says he drew himself with a sad face, and two teachers who looked angry.

"That's kinda profound," she said.  "He's never done something like that before."

A spokesperson for the Marysville School District said the teacher and para-educator are both on administrative leave pending the outcome of the district's internal investigation and the police investigation as well.

Marysville Police confirms it is an open, active case.

The school district has also brought in new leadership to oversee the department that directly deals with special needs students.

"I want to know how his underwear got ripped," said Fuerte.  "That's my kid.  They don't get to do that to my kid."

Aiden is no longer going to school at Kellogg Marsh Elementary.  Trish says she does not feel like her son is safe there.

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