The DeSoto Police Department and DeSoto ISD are investigating an allegation that a special needs teacher’s assistant physically abused a non-verbal student.
A video, reportedly recorded by another special needs student, shows the incident in which the teacher’s assistant appears to approach the student and hit him with a power cord, according to NBC 5 DFW.
Another video taken by the student allegedly shows the assistant grabbing the boy by his pants and making him pick papers up off the ground.
Mike Holum, a special education advocate at Advocacy Behavior Consulting, told NBC 5 that the incident occurred on October 20 at DeSoto High School.
The teacher’s assistant, who has not been identified since no criminal charges have been filed yet, reportedly works with special needs students transitioning into the workforce.
Holum said he was “horrified” by the video, adding that “you hear a loud snap and then him uttering in pain” after the student was hit by the cord.
“The courage of the student that took the video is just beyond the years of somebody her age,” said Holum, per NBC 5.
Joyce Hernandez, the mother of the student who recorded the video, said she was proud of her daughter, who has “been like an advocate for kids for years.”
Hernandez said she was not sure how to react since she did not know the student in the video, but she consulted her coworkers and chose to file a police report.
“My initial reaction was not to report it because I was afraid of retaliation,” she said, per NBC 5.
“I was reluctant to do it out of fear, but I think I finally made the decision to report it because it was more important to protect the student, and my own daughter is actually secondarily being abused in there. She’s afraid,” Hernandez said.
A statement from DeSoto ISD said the district is “aware of the allegations against a teacher and is investigating the matter in collaboration with police.”
“The employee in question has been placed on administrative leave pending the conclusion of the investigation. DeSoto ISD does not tolerate abuse of any kind and takes all allegations of misconduct seriously,” stated the district, per NBC 5.
Holum said he was “cautiously optimistic that the police department and the school district will do the right thing here.”
DeSoto ISD has been struggling academically for years, with only 32% of students scoring at grade level on their STAAR exams during the 2021-2022 school year. Still, the district’s graduation rate that school year managed to beat out Dallas ISD, where nearly 20% of students in the graduating Class of 2022 failed to earn a diploma in four years despite the hard work of the district’s talented educators.