SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - An elementary teacher held a 5-year-old, 60-lb. student on the ground with her knee and "gouged his face," and pinched another special ed student's nipples and called him a "retard," the families claim in court.
Three families sued Antioch Unified School District, and the allegedly abusive teacher, Theresa Allen-Caulboy, in Federal Court.
They also sued MNO Grant Elementary School principal Michael Green, AUSD special education director David Wax, assistant superintendent Keith Rogenski, and special ed coordinator Kai Montgomery.
Lead plaintiff Larry Evans, a father, claims school administrators failed to protect their children from the abusive teacher and "attempted to prevent parents from reporting suspicions of child abuse to police agencies."
Allen-Caulboy taught a special day class at the elementary school, the parents say.
They say in the complaint that "all of the children in Allen-Caulboy's classroom were subjected to a hostile educational environment based on their disability. They were subjected to - and observed other children being subjected to - demeaning and insulting language, hostile and aggressive interactions with teachers and aides, and physical abuse including but not limited to hitting, gouging, pinching and restraining children. The physical abuse was severe enough to case bruising and other injuries. The verbal abuse caused children intense fear and other psychological damage which continue to the present."
Evan claims that his 5-year-old autistic son who does not speak was assigned to Allen-Caulboy's classroom.
The complaint states: "While in Allen-Caulboy's classroom, the teacher struck M.E., repeatedly held him on the ground with her knee, and forcibly gouged his face. M.E. observed other students being struck, pinched and subjected to other forms of physical abuse. M.E. heard the teacher verbally abuse students and refer to them by derogatory names."
His son was unable to tell anyone what was happening at school, Evans says. He says his son enjoyed school until he was put into Allen-Caulboy's classroom. Then he no longer wanted to go to school and he began acting aggressively toward his parents and siblings.
"Megan Evans [the boy's co-plaintiff mother] and Larry Evans reported to defendants Allen-Caulboy and Montgomery on numerous occasions the alarming changes in behavior they were observing in M.E.," the complaint states. "Megan Evans and Larry Evans contacted Allen-Caulboy and Montgomery via telephone on at least 19 separate occasions yet no employee of the AUSD took any steps to determine the source of the drastic changes in M.E. nor took any steps to stop Allen-Caulboy's abuse of M.E. and other children in the classroom."
The Evanses say they did not know their child was being abused, but were concerned enough about the impact of his classroom assignment and the district's lack of response to remove him from the school.
They say they did not learn about "the physical abuse that M.E. had endured" until an Antioch Police detective contacted them during a criminal investigation of Allen-Caulboy.
Plaintiff Teresa Green claims that her 6-year-old autistic child, A.S., also suffered behavioral changes after being placed Allen-Caulboy's class.
"On a number of occasions, A.S. remarked 'Bad Miss Caulboy.' Teresa Green did not understand that one or more of the adults in the classroom were abusing A.S.," the complaint states.
It adds: "On or about January 15, 2013, A.S. indicated he did not want to go to school and when they arrived to school he indicated to his mother that the teacher's aide 'Tasha' had hurt his hand.
"On or about January 17, 2013, Ms. Green received a telephone call and was informed by an employee of AUSD that her son A.S. had been physically injured in the classroom by his teacher defendant Allen-Caulboy. Ms. Green was told that Allen-Caulboy pinched A.S.'s nipple in an attempt to 'get him to comply' with her request. Ms. Green was further informed that Allen-Caulboy often yelled at A.S. using derogatory terms including 'retard' and used inappropriate physical force against A.S."
Green says she reported the abuse to police. She claims she also spoke with defendant Wax, who told her that the district "was 'aware' of other incidents involving Allen-Caulboy but that he could not discuss the details of other complaints due to an ongoing 'investigation.'"
A third mother, plaintiff Heather Carranza, claims she noticed physical injuries on the body of her daughter, L.C., who told her that her teacher had caused them.
"In January 2013, Heather Carranza observed multiple bruises on L.C.'s body. L.C. told her mother that Allen-Caulboy had squeezed her elbow, which left a visible bruise and had pushed her down," the complaint states.
Carranza claims she made multiple calls to defendant-principal Green, to discuss the abuse. When she finally reached him, she says she was told to put her complaint in writing, so she sent him an email with her concerns.
But rather than report the abuse, as required by law, "employees of the AUSD instead caused an investigation of Ms. Carranza by the Child and Family Services Bureau despite their knowledge that Allen-Caulboy was in fact the person physically abusing L.C. and other children in the class," the complaint states.
Two families claim they received a letter from Green on Feb. 15, telling them that Allen-Caulboy "had 'resigned her teaching position with the AUSD' and would not be returning to MNO Grant Elementary School."
The families seek medical expenses and compensatory and punitive damages for discrimination and constitutional violations.
They are represented by Peter Alfert with Hinton Alfert & Kahn in Walnut Creek.
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