Mother criticizes school over handling of daughter's attack
Updated On: Aug 20 2013 07:42:06 AM CDT
A Houston-area mother is speaking out about the way school officials handled what she said was an attack on her 12-year-old daughter by a classmate.
Local 2 Investigates is not identifying the mother so as not to identify her daughter.
The mother told Local 2 the incident happened before Thanksgiving at Gentry Junior School in the Goose Creek School District.
"She brought me her English paper and said, 'Mom I wrote this on violence,'" said the mother.
The girl's mother shared her daughter's three-page essay with Local 2. Halfway through the paper on violence in our society there are four sentences that stopped this mother from reading further.
"I stopped and I looked at her and said, 'Baby is this true?,'" said the mother.
Too afraid to say what happened out loud the girl put pen to paper and wrote that a fellow student cornered her in a classroom, switched off the lights, rammed his hands down her shirt and groped her.
"I screamed, turned on the light and turned him in. It was really scary because he could have done worse," the essay read.
"When I read that I just felt like my whole world just crumbled," said the mother. "The thing that I feared the most happened to her at school."
After notifying school officials this mother said she was told the boy was suspended and that a police report would be filed. However, several weeks later this mother said she noticed a change in her daughter's behavior.
"She said, 'Mom he was back,'" said the mother. "She had passed him in the hallway and she said it was just like it all came back."
The mother said while the boy was removed from all of her daughter's classes she was appalled no one from the school called the family to notify them he was returning to campus.
"If they had at least told me I could have prepared her better than just here he is," said the mother.
After finding out the boy was back on campus the mother then began repeatedly questioning school officials about the status of the police report.
"I was told four to five times that a report had been filed," said the mother, who showed Local 2 a journal she kept of the names of all school officials she spoke with regarding this incident and the dates those conversations took place.
This mother said she became suspicious and began calling several law enforcement agencies in our area when she said school officials could not provide her with a police department incident number or a name of an officer who took the report.
"I probably made 20 to 25 calls," said the mother.
This mother said she learned no police report had been filed.
The mother said she also learned through another parent the boy who was accused of groping her daughter had been accused of doing something similar to another female student after he was allowed to return to campus.
"I was mad, I was furious," said the mother.
This mother then demanded a face-to-face meeting with district administrators. The mother used a tape recorder to document the meeting.
"I wanted to have a record of their responses to my questions," said the mother.
On the recording provided to Local 2, school administrators identified by the mother are heard telling her privacy laws prevented them from notifying the family the boy was coming back to campus.
Initially, administrators are also heard telling the mother that no one told her a police report would be filed. Later in the meeting an administrator is heard telling the mother "somewhere there was a communication 'SNAFU' that we can't fix at this point."
During the recorded meeting administrators are heard telling the mother they handled her daughter's case according to the district's code of conduct and that "legally we do have discretion when to involve law enforcement and we did not at that point." The administrator is also heard telling the mother "we have discretion, especially when we look at the age of the students in dealing with that and the level."
Later in the meeting the girl's mother and father are heard questioning administrators about allegations of a second incident involving a different female student.
"Nobody protected the one, that when he came back, that it happened to," the mother is heard saying on the recording.
"And that case has been dealt with," the administrator is heard responding.
The mother said district administrators eventually told her the boy would no longer be allowed back at Gentry.
"I'm angry, I think they failed to protect any of the students at that school," the mother said.
This is why this mother said she filed her own police report and the Harris County Sheriff's Office has launched an investigation.
When Local 2 contacted officials with the Goose Creek School District to ask about the incident involving this mother's daughter, allegations of a second incident and the meeting the mother had with administrators, we were sent a written statement that reads:
"I can confirm that in November of 2012 the parent made a complaint to the district about another student’s conduct towards her daughter. The district promptly investigated, took appropriate disciplinary measures based on the information found, and provided to the parent written investigation findings as well as the actions taken based on those findings. Because Goose Creek CISD is bound by federal and state laws to keep confidential student disciplinary matters, the district is unable to provide specifics on this issue. However, the district can confirm that appropriate measures were taken to help ensure that this student would be free from further misconduct. As always, Goose Creek CISD is committed to ensuring a safe educational environment for all students."