Substitute teacher accused of hitting special needs student

McCRACKEN COUNTY, KY — A local mother says a substitute teacher at Concord Elementary School hit her 6-year-old son, who happens to be autistic. The mother says another teacher reported it to the principal after seeing it happen in a special needs class.

“There’s no telling how many times this has happened,” says the local mother.

The mother says her son doesn’t know the name of the substitute teacher — all he could remember was her gray hair and what he says she did to him.

“He said that she hit him across the back, and it was stinging,” says the mother. “He said it did hurt him.”

The mother tells me the principal notified her about it later that day. She says the principal told her the substitute teacher claims she hit the 6-year-old out of self-defense. “She was defending herself, because I guess he had an aggressive moment and he must have hit her,” she says. “So, she hit him back.”

The mother says her son can get aggressive sometimes. In fact, it’s one of the most common challenges for parents of children who have autism, according to Autism Speaks.

“She shouldn’t be hitting any kids, but I think it’s worse that he’s special needs, you know? It’s a mental disorder,” says the mother. “He has impulses. He can’t help it. What’s her excuse? That’s how I feel about it. He has an excuse; he can’t help it. You’re a teacher; you can help it. You don’t put your hands on my son.”

Now, she has a message for the substitute teacher: “She will never be working in a public school again as a teacher as long as I can help it, because I am going to do everything that I can. I will be pressing charges against her, and I will find out her name.”

In order to protect the identity of her son, we are not releasing the mother’s name or showing her face.

McCracken County School District spokeswoman Jayme Jones says the district is investigating the claims, but she wouldn’t go into detail. Jones says the district learned about the alleged incident on Wednesday — the day it happened — and immediately notified the Department for Community Based Services. That department has launched its own investigation.

Jones says the school district is not releasing the substitute teacher’s name because that information is protected under federal law. She did say the person is not currently working as a substitute in the district.

No one from the school district would talk about the claims on camera, but they did send us this statement:

“On Wednesday, February 13, 2019, school and district officials received a report of possible inappropriate conduct of a substitute employee. Due to the nature of the allegation, the district immediately notified the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) and began an investigation into the matter. DCBS is conducting a separate but simultaneous investigation. The employee under investigation is not currently working as a substitute in the district.

“The top priority of McCracken County Public Schools is to ensure a safe learning environment for all students. When a complaint or allegation is brought to our attention, the district notifies the proper authorities and investigates immediately and thoroughly. The district takes appropriate personnel action based on all the facts we can confirm.

“There are state and federal laws that protect information regarding students and staff of McCracken County Public Schools. The district cannot elaborate on specific personnel actions or situations.

“McCracken County Public Schools will not comment on details of an ongoing personnel investigation.”