The boy’s parents are sharing his story because they say it took months to find out what happened and they hope to protect all the students.
ROSENBERG, Texas. A family in Rosenberg say they were horrified after a video showed their 5-year-old son with autism being abused in class. They learned about the incident after he returned home with an injured leg.
At their request, the family was provided with a video from the Lamar CISD class at Arredondo Elementary School. For about 18 minutes of the 20-minute video, the child is not visible as the paraprofessional carried him to a small, windowless locker room.
In the neighborhood, this room was called the “soothing room” or “sensory room.”
Although the baby is not visible, you can hear him talking, crying and screaming.
This September, Destiny and Ruth Omieri’s son came home from school with a toe injury. He could not explain what had happened, but it was obvious that he had been injured.
“He literally told me, ‘Dad… they hurt me. They caused me a lot of pain,” explained Destiny Omier, the boy’s father.
Ruth Omeire, the mother, came to the school asking questions and said she was told conflicting stories about what happened. The parents then asked for the security video, and three months later, when they received it, they found it difficult to view it.
“It took us literally three attempts to watch the full video,” said Destiny Omeire. “It was too emotional.”
The video begins with a little boy sitting alone against a wall. The paraprofessional could be heard telling him to sit down. Moments later, the boy approaches another child sitting on another rug. At this moment, the woman approaches the boy, grabs him by the arm and tries to take him to the door, but he resists and retreats to the wall.
“You can tell right away that my son was terrified,” the mother said. “He seemed to know where he was going. He knew he was going into a dark room.
The paraprofessional then opens the door, takes the child in his arms, and leads him into a small dressing room. He stays there for at least 18 minutes. It is unclear if the paraprofessional is in the room with him or not, however her voice is heard throughout the video.
At first you can tell that the light in this room is off. Four minutes later, you can hear him apologize.
“Sorry, that won’t work!” the woman can be heard saying.
For the next few minutes, the paraprofessional continuously raises his voice and tells him to sit down.
“I was just giving him orders and just yelling,” explained Ruth, his mother, “and I thought…why are you yelling at a 5 year old?”
Ruth Omair is not only the mother of a child with special needs, but also the county speech therapist. She often works with children with disabilities and says she is concerned that her comments could jeopardize her work.
At some point, the boy is injured when a door steps on his foot. It is not clear on the video how this happened, but he cries for several minutes and you can hear how “his leg hurts!” A paraprofessional can also be heard saying that he doesn’t know how he injured his leg.
At this point, the child has taken off his clothes, which is not unusual for a child with autism. Near the end of the video, a male voice is heard telling the boy to get dressed if he wants a Band-Aid.
“I would love to see her fired and have her license revoked,” said Karen Mayer Cunningham, a special education advocate. “For her to work with kids, most of them can’t speak or defend themselves.”
The following is Lamar CISD’s statement:
“The employee in question in relation to this incident is a paraprofessional and while it is true that the employee continues to work for Lamar CISD, it is NOT true that the employee remains in the same position. The employee has been transferred to another job and is no longer working with students.”
“When the superintendent, Dr. Nivens, saw the footage, he immediately asked about the status of the ongoing investigation. And based on what he saw on the video, he felt compelled to call the CPS, so he personally filed a complaint with the CPS. In addition, he wanted to be sure that the investigation would be carried out honestly and thoroughly, so he hired an outside agency to interview all parties involved and report the results directly to him.”
“Initially, the campus director launched an investigation. Human Resources and Special Education then worked together on the investigation. Once the superintendent became aware of the concerns, he commissioned a third-party investigation and filed a CPS report. While I am unable to share the details of the investigation, I can report that it was concluded that “none of the evidence in the record suggests that [the student] has been a victim of abuse, neglect or unlawful discrimination.” In addition, CPS does not consider their participation necessary.”
Asked if any protocols have changed since then, the county said:
“Yes, this room cannot be used for calming or sensory purposes until cameras are added to this area. The door has been removed. The following recommendations were made regarding the use of the room.”
“Students now have to go into this area voluntarily.”
“There should be bean bags, weighted blankets, or other attractive items in here.”
“The adult must use positive behavior strategies in the de-escalation process.”
The boy’s parents said they would like to share their son’s story because it took months to find out what happened and they hope to protect all students. They also want parents to listen to their children if they show signs that something is wrong at school.
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