More allegations against teacher

February 27, 2008 6:16:11 AM PST
A teacher was caught on tape insulting her students. Now, more parents are coming forward with complaints against the same teacher at Memorial Elementary School.When Diana Mijares sent her four-year-old daughter to school with a tape recorder in her bag, what she captured on that tape seemed almost implausible to her.

Recording of teacher: "Everybody understand that? You're mean to me, so I get to be mean to you. Y'all are just stupid kids. I swear to God."

But for parent Frances Villanueva, what she heard wasn't all that hard to believe.

She said, "I felt like, 'Now we got her.' There's some proof there."

Villanueva's son is in the same Pre-K class at Memorial Elementary School. She claims that last December the same teacher heard scolding her class actually assaulted her son.

"She had screamed at him and told him that wasn't going to be his anymore, and she had slapped him in the face," Villanueva recalled.

HISD officials confirm a slapping allegation was reported to the principal. After an investigation, the principal did find evidence the teacher slapped a student and was disciplined.

"She was suspended for one day without pay back in December," explained HISD spokesperson Terry Abbott.

Asked if the punishment was appropriate for the offense, Abbott responded, "That's one of the things that we want to look into."

The Houston Federation of Teachers calls into question whether the recording is even valid.

"It's OK to just go 'get' the teacher," said spokesperson Gayle Fallon.

HISD does have a policy which restricts tape recorders from being used in class without teacher approval. But our legal analyst says parents have a right to know what's going on in their children's classrooms.

"(The policy) wasn't meant to apply to a parent putting a tape recorder into a student's backpack," said KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy.

As for Mijares, she says, policy or not, she would do it all over again.

"I'm glad that I did, because now the parents realize what's really going on," she said. "Now they have answers."

HISD's office of inspector general will be investigating this case, as well as the allegations from December, to see if that case was handled properly. In the meantime, the teacher is on administrative duty away from the school.

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