The Texas family of a high school boy with special needs who was mistreated by his teacher has released videos of the incident in hopes that it doesn’t happen again to another child.
The incident stems back to December 2018, when a teacher at George Ranch High School in Richmond, about 30 miles southwest from Houston, is seen knocking over a desk, grabbing the boy by the arm and making him pick it up.
The teacher then knocks two chairs to the floor.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
“Pick it up. Pick it up. That’s how I feel. Keep going. Pick that one up,” she says in a video released on Facebook Saturday by the family’s attorney, Samuel Wesley. “See how it is when you turn stuff over? It’s not fun is it?”
The teacher, identified by the lawyer as ReGina Thurston, tells the boy that he’s going to clean up the entire room and then proceeds to throw stuff on the floor and make the teenager pick it up.
In another video, Thurston is seen grabbing the boy and yelling at him. A third video appears to show an adult kick the boy while he stands in a school hallway.
The boy’s mother says in a video released by the attorney that her son lacks verbal communication skills and cannot defend himself.
“The teacher is being harsh, cruel and treating my son as if he were an animal,” the mother says.
Wesley said in a Facebook post that the school waited several weeks before contacting the boy’s mother to tell her about the incident.
Lindsey Sanders, community relations director for the Lamar County Independent School District, said in a statement Tuesday that Thurston was immediately placed on administrative leave following the December 2018 incident as the school investigated what happened. She resigned in January 2019, Sanders said.
“We believe all classrooms in Lamar CISD should be a safe place for our students,” the district’s statement read. “Clearly, the District does not condone Ms. Thurston’s treatment of the student as shown in these videos, which is why swift action was taken. … Following this incident and prior to the start of this school year, all campus administrators attended a training that reinforced the high expectations we have for our staff to maintain a safe, nurturing environment on all our campuses.”
Next week the boy’s family will meet with school officials to begin a due process hearing. Wesley wrote in his Facebook post that the family asked that the hearing is open to the public “to make sure this NEVER happens again in a Special Education classroom.”
A lawyer for Thurston released a statement saying allegations that the teacher was abusive to the student are untrue. “The techniques that Mrs. Thurston employed are based on the student’s individual needs and on a specific discipline management theory,” the statement said.