Parents say Katy ISD principal waited weeks before reporting special ed abuse allegation

By: Greg Groogan

POSTED:AUG 31 2016 08:24PM CDT

UPDATED:SEP 01 2016 02:35PM CDT

KATY, Texas - For those with lingering doubts that cameras are a necessity in Special Education classrooms, FOX 26 News has uncovered an on-going crisis of confidence that's both cautionary and deeply disturbing.

It unfolded this past Spring at Katy ISD's Randolph Elementary School where at least five families filed abuse complaints with Child Protective Services against the same Special Education teacher.

The alleged victims in this case were together each morning in a class known as PPCD which stands for Pre-school Programs for Children with Disabilities.

Parents say Katy ISD principal waited weeks before reporting special ed abuse allegation

As young as three and no older than four, none of these kids were capable of alerting their parents if someone was hurting them.

"I want the world to hear it. I want everybody to hear it," said parent Chris Diaz.

Diaz's son Alejandro was among the reported victims. During the first week of June he and his wife were told of the abuse allegation by the school's principal.

"I was advised that there were two adult witnesses that witnessed these events inside the classroom," said Diaz.

For Diaz, it was a world shattering moment rapidly followed by yet another unexpected development.

"Within 8 hours of talking to school administrators in person I was advised over the telephone that Child Protective Services had already closed the case stating that there was no abuse and I was also advised that the Katy ISD Police Department had closed the case as unfounded," said Diaz.

Haunted by a slew of unanswered questions, Diaz began tracking down the parents of his son's classmates.

He learned there were multiple children subjected to physical mistreatment and all of their families were outraged that the abuse cases were opened and closed without investigators seeking statements or evidence from parents.

The families collectively discovered they had something else in common - clear, consistent memories of unexplained bruising on the bodies of their non-verbal children. One child suffered a dislocated elbow that was never explained.

"A lot of the parents talked about noticing bruising on the upper arms, bruising on the upper thigh. One parent described seeing bruises on the back and I personally saw bruises on my son's abdomen," said Diaz.

Fox 26 news has spoken in depth with two other families who filed CPS complaints against the Special Ed Teacher. Both completely confirmed Christopher Diaz's account of events. Both also declined on camera interviews fearing retaliation by Katy ISD against their kids.

"They fear retribution by the school system," said Diaz.

Unable to obtain a case report from Katy ISD Police, the parents sought out the classroom aide who made the outcry.

In documents obtained by Fox 26 the whistle blower says she witnessed the teacher painfully squeezing the faces of children, harshly wrenching their heads and even pulling their hair.

"If it's unacceptable to do that to anybody else, it is unacceptable to do that to a special needs child, any child," said Diaz.

The paraprofessional who Fox 26 News agreed not to identify wrote "I felt strongly that the safety of the students was in jeopardy."

The classroom aid says she communicated descriptions of the mistreatment directly to Randolph Principal Kristin Harper in late April and followed with an e-mail asking her to speak with the other aid. The communication occurred five weeks before Katy ISD says it launched its investigation, notified CPS and reached out to parents.

If that timeline proves true, Fox 26 legal analyst Chris Tritico says Principal Harper clearly broke Texas Law by failing to report within 48 hours even the suspicion of child abuse.

"When the principal became aware of it in April she had a duty to act. It's not good enough under Texas Law to conduct your own investigation and say seven days later say I didn't find any evidence. That's why the legislature wrote into the law you have 48 hours to report this so that you can't have situations where months go by and evidence is lost and that's what happened here," said Tritico who has extensive experience in school litigation.

A Katy ISD spokesperson says Principal Harper and her assistants began their own investigation on May 26th and didn't call CPS until June 3rd.

Tritico says even that nine day gap is a clear violation of the law and Katy ISD's published policy.

"I think this principal made a huge mistake in the way she handled this," said Tritico.

Well known Special Needs advocate Louis Geigerman is troubled that Katy ISD Police closed its investigation without interviewing the para-professionals who claimed to have witnessed the mistreatment of disabled kids.

"Frankly, what this smacks of is cover-up," said Geigerman who has investigated scores of public school abuse cases.

For the parents of these acutely vulnerable kids who still have few answers, faith in the school district they once trusted, has been breached beyond repair.

"The institution is more concerned with taking care of the institution's reputation than taking care of the children that they are sworn to protect," said Diaz.

As for the accused teacher in this case, Katy ISD allowed her to quietly resign. She faces no criminal charges or professional sanctions and is free to bring her brand of special education to another Texas school.

These comments appear on www.CoveringKaty.com  with regard to this report.


scott thompson

September 1, 2016 at 2:36 pm

Doesn’t sound like cameras are needed, seems like administration changes are deserving.

I agree with innocent until proven guilty, but if incidents are swept under the rug…

Another Anonymous for now, fearing KISD retaliation

September 1, 2016 at 2:29 pm

KISD did all possible not to publicize the arrest of a student last year (fall 2015) for gun-related “terroristic activities” at Tompkins High.

Dennis Spellman

September 1, 2016 at 3:10 pm

Send your information to me personally. Your identity is safe with me just as it was when sources told us about gang activity at McDonald Jr. High. My email address is dspellman@coveringkaty.com

September 1, 2016 at 5:56 pm

Dennis we can’t come forward Katy leadership harasses those dare. They literally make our work lives hell. Sometimes people quit– mostly they cower and comply. Rarely do they stand-though we employees have the numbers- there are way more of us; but, KISD holds all the power. It is the sickest business culture I have ever been subjected to. The corruption is in everything— permeating every department. Those that fight face a litany of leadership created obstacles all the way up the ladder-all complaints marked “unsubstantiated”- as these people have quietly seeded self-serving cronies into every position of power–all the way up to the Asst Superintendents– while the public slept– or, should I say the public is pacified with false narratives KISD feds them. Every problem KISD has– the driver shortages — the budget shortfalls– all of it — Katy ISD rolls out the propaganda– and biased surveys instruments to pacify the public. The public never questions. Too much fluoride in the water? Another TV show to keep minds occupied? One thing is for sure, KISD leadership will close ranks and circle those wagons against anyone who dares to stand.

Anonymous, for now

September 1, 2016 at 6:06 pm

Anonymous, for now

September 1, 2016 at 10:20 am

Katy ISD is notorious for this sort of thing and much more. KISD shuts reports of abuse at all costs. Child, sexual, or harassment cases are all shut down through intimidation, more harassment, write ups, and false accusations against victims… You name it, and HR, Admin, and Departmental leadership engage in it. They are in cahoots– all considered “team players.” If the community/parents/ taxpayers of KISD knew of the corruption of this district your eye balls would roll back into your heads. Whatever it takes to shut the victims and witnesses up is what TPTB will do. For example, I know a driver that witnessed a teacher horribly abusing a special needs child. The driver quietly went to her supervisor to ask what to do. The supervisor sent her up the ladder the HR liaison, who listened intently during the first meeting. Later, the driver was called back to a meeting with Skip Baskerville and William Rhodes — both eventually intimidated her into quitting. Let me share how. When she described it to me, I recognized the modus operandi. Rules for Radicals is a argumentative technique wherein one distorts, discredits, and disrupts — basically dehumanizing an opponent. By the time it was over with, these men insisted that dozens of other teachers– who were not present– had come forward on the abusing teacher’s behalf. These men further accused the driver of reporting the incident solely in hopes of being paid off to be silent– though nothing could be further from the truth. These depraved men pulled the idea of a payoff out of nowhere. I suspect they did as a backhanded way to suggest such a thing was possible (which might work as many drivers make less than $12,000 a year), but smoothly delivered with a dose of shame to meant to force a false sense of humiliation and discomfort on the victim– for daring to come forward. Long and short, the special needs driver was a sensitive soul. She was too appalled, heartbroken, and mortified… She quit. Interestingly– as the driver rounded the corner of the office door, Skip took a phone call– and she heard him say, “Yes, the driver is taken care of.” (Meaning this driver was silenced.) This story is the tip of the iceberg.

Mary McGarr

September 1, 2016 at 8:46 pm

Well, I’ve never been one to shy away from confrontation with Katy ISD. Many others stand up to them as well.

We get good people to run for the school board so that such things do not happen, but 95% of the parents stay home on election day! So instead of those good people that couldn’t get elected because parents stayed home, we have a school board that consists of people who are there for mainly selfish reasons–they need business, they represent groups that are anti-academics, or they want a football team to always win. They’re not there to make sure our students get a good academic education, and they appear to not care how students are treated.

Anyone can read the 500 pages on my website, http://www.ExposingKatyISD.com which chronicle twenty-five years of bumbling maneuvers by KISD. You’ll see the evidence of an educational institution that is not doing what it’s supposed to do.

All of the Special Education parents should be standing outside the Administration Building demanding the cameras that the Texas State Legislature said two years ago had to be in place by now. If those cameras were operational, problems like this one would not happen. Why isn’t our school board taking care of that? Where is our state legislator and why isn’t he demanding compliance with a law I hope he voted for.

I’m as appalled as anyone about this story, but until parents have the backbone to come forward and speak out and vote for the right people, this stuff is not going to stop.