Accused teacher could be fired

April 1, 2008 5:28:47 PM PDT
There are new details about a teacher accused of yelling at and even slapping her students. Eyewitness News has learned she could now be fired.We first told you about that teacher at Memorial Elementary in February. Since then we've learned about even more complaints against her. Those complaints could cost her, her job.

District officials say, after a lengthy investigation, they've found enough proof to fire the teacher. But, her attorney says there's a simple explanation why she acted so erratically.

When Diana Mijares hid a tape recorder in her daughter's backpack, she never expected to hear what she did.

Teacher on tape: "Everybody understand, you're mean to me so I get to be mean to you. You all are just stupid kids, I swear to God."

Now, weeks after that damaging audio surfaced, the veteran Pre-K teacher, Ilene London, could soon be out of a job.

HISD Regional Superintendent Adriana Tamez explained, "Regardless of your past or the history or the years that you put into the district, the bottom line -- once you cross that line and negatively impact the life of a child, then we're moving forward to terminate you."

A look at London's personnel file shows that in the last few months, at least three parents have complained about her performance. One of those complaints, a parent alleged London jerked on her son's arm. In December, the parents of another little boy complained to the principal that the teacher slapped their son. London was suspended for one day.

"In hindsight, we realize she should have been removed until we investigated this officially," Tamez admitted. "Unfortunately, that did not happen."

Despite the complaints, London's attorney says, as a whole, the teacher does have a good track record with the district. He claims on the day the recording was made London was suffering from side effects of prescription steroids prescribed for allergies.

Attorney James Fallon said, "She had no reason to believe that she was going to have that kind of response. She did on that day and she feels horrible about it. The district has been very unforgiving."

The district argues if drugs were in fact the cause, London should have stayed home. If Mijares gets her way, she'll have plenty of time to do exactly that.

"I'm sorry she's losing her job, but part of me is not," Mijares told Eyewitness News. "That's my daughter and I can't have nobody teach her that way."

London has been with the district more than 30 years. The HISD school board is expected to vote on April 10 whether to support her termination. If they do, London could appeal their decision.

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