Aldine ISD teacher and aide charged for alleged abuse of 6-year-old boy with autism
ALDINE, TX – Two Aldine ISD educators have been charged after a first-grade student who has autism was allegedly physically injured in the classroom.
Britnee Vaughn, a teacher for kids with special needs, and teacher’s aide Maria Gonzalez-Valencia both face felony charges of injury to a child.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Aldine ISD said both educators are no longer employed by the district.
In an interview last week, the 6-year-old’s parents, Pablo Reyna and Angelica Frias, said they noticed their son would return from Raymond Elementary School with random scratches, bruises and bumps on his head.
“Whether he was OK or not,” Reyna said, “I thought he could have been playing or something. You never know, he bumped his head or something. I mean, he’s a kid, but like I said, it was never in our mind that the teacher was abusive towards him like that.”
Frias said what appeared to be minor injuries happened multiple times over the course of months, and both parents questioned their student’s teacher about it.
“It’s heartbreaking because he isn’t able to talk,” Frias said. “He has autism, and he doesn’t talk, and he was not able to let me know what was going on.”
She said finally their request made it to the Raymond Elementary School’s administration staff, and an investigation was initiated.
The school’s principal, Tannessa Maddox, reportedly obtained video from inside the classroom after the parents complained.
Court records detail multiple instances where students were allegedly physically abused while in their classroom.
The first incident the court documents covered happened on March 24.
Witnesses to the video state that Gonzalez-Valencia was seen striking the boy in the forehead with an unknown object after he touched an item on her desk.
After the boy was hit, the video reportedly shows the 6-year-old placing his hands on his head in the same area of the strike, indicating that it caused him to feel pain.
After allegedly striking the boy, the teacher’s aide can be heard telling the boy to move, court records claim.
On March 25, a video allegedly shows Vaughn walk over to the boy, who was spinning around on the floor, and kick him, causing him to slide across the floor.
In a separate incident on April 4, court records claim that Vaughn physically hurt another child, in addition to the 6-year-old who has autism.
Witnesses claim that the classroom video shows the boy and the other student playing on the floor.
Vaughn is then seen walking over to the boy and grabbing him by the back of his shirt in the neck area, pulling him up from the floor and onto his feet.
She then reportedly pushes him towards his desk, causing him to fall to the floor.
Witnesses to the video said when the boy got up and sat at his desk, he started rubbing his neck with his hands.
After that, the video reportedly shows Vaughn walking over to the other student and grabbing him by the ear until he gets up from the ground.
The student allegedly yelled in reaction, causing Vaughn to let go. That’s when she reportedly told him not to scream again, or she would take his tablet.
When the student went to sit down at his desk, he was reportedly holding his ear in pain.
In an interview on Tuesday, Pablo Jr.’s parents said the teachers being charged is a good first step, but they want full accountability.
“I think they should be not able to teach anymore. Their title should be taken away from them. If they didn’t have the patience for the kids, then why be a teacher?” said Frias.
They said they would also like to see the district pay more attention.
“I hope that they keep an eye out and be more aware of what’s going on with the teachers, the students and just be able to catch things sooner,” said Frias.
Pablo Jr.’s parents said their son is not finishing the school year at Raymond Elementary as they did not feel comfortable with him going back there after what happened. He is currently enrolled at another Aldine ISD school.
Aldine ISD issued an updated statement about the investigation on Tuesday:
“Aldine ISD is aware of an incident at Raymond Elementary School in which a teacher and a paraprofessional made inappropriate physical contact with two special needs students. Once the school was made aware of this incident, CPS and Aldine ISD PD were immediately contacted and an investigation was initiated. The Aldine ISD PD turned their findings over to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and charges have been filed against both individuals. Both individuals are no longer employed by Aldine ISD.
This incident is deeply concerning and should not have occurred. The district trains teachers and paraprofessionals in nonviolent crisis intervention techniques at the beginning of each school year and will reinforce that training during the remainder of this year. Aldine ISD expects all employees to conduct themselves in a manner that demonstrates the proper regard for others and does not tolerate behavior that infringes on the safety and emotional well-being of any students or staff member. In addition, the district will use its resources to protect its students and staff.
Aldine ISD leaders will continue to work together to find solutions which provide a safe, healthy and nurturing learning environment in our schools in order to support academic achievement, respectful interactions and engagement.”