An incident involving an injured student at East Texas Montessori Prep Academy has spurred conflicting stories from the child’s parent and the school’s principal.
April Corley said she picked up her 5-year-old daughter, Rosalie Ascher, at around 2:45 p.m. Sept. 5 from the Longview ISD campus. The kindergartner started complaining about her arm hurting.
“She took off her shirt and underneath her arm ... it was just horrifying,” Corley said. “It wasn’t only under one arm, it was under the other one, too.”
Rosalie told her she was getting ready to go home and was falling asleep when a teacher grabbed her.
Corley said when she spoke to the teacher the next day, the teacher told her that Rosalie was throwing a fit.
Corley said she called the school about the incident and also brought Rosalie to the hospital to check for an infection in the scratches on her arm. Corley said she filed a police report and got in touch with CPS.
The News-Journal has requested the police report, which was not final as of Friday. Texas Family and Protective Services spokeswoman Shari Pulliam said Friday that the CPS investigation also is not complete.
Longview ISD Director of Montessori Jacqueline Burnett said she called Corley on the day of the incident and asked her to return to the school with Rosalie to discuss the allegation. Burnett said Corley hung up on her.
On Sept. 6, Corley, Burnett and the child met to discuss the incident.
Burnett said during the meeting, Corley first said Rosalie’s classroom teacher caused the scratches. Burnett said Corley also said the teacher was black, while Rosalie’s teacher is not.
After speaking with Rosalie, Burnett said she identified the teacher the child was with during pick-up and brought the employee into the meeting.
“I kind of forced them into, what I would say, is a civilian lineup,” Corley said. “(Burnett) didn’t really line people up. What she did was she brought people in so Rosie could see them and identify this woman.”
Rosalie identified a teacher, and Corley asked the teacher to discuss what happened, she said.
“She completely discarded me, looked at Rosie, and said ‘did you tell your mama the fit you threw for me? That you were throwing yourself on the ground? And kicking and everything?’“ Corley said. “In my head I’m thinking, ‘I would be kicking too if this woman had grabbed me and left marks like that on my arm like that. I mean, what child wouldn’t?”
Corley said the teacher admitted to grabbing the child and said “let me show you how I grabbed her.”
However, Burnett tells a different version of what happened at the meeting. She said the teacher came to the office and asked Rosalie if she remembered her. She said Corley then asked if she was the teacher who grabbed her child. The teacher said “let me show you,” and Corley left with Rosalie.
Burnett said during her investigation she found the teacher was putting Rosalie’s backpack on her and she was “throwing fits” throughout the day.
If a parent makes an allegation of a teacher or other employee hurting a child, Burnett said she starts the investigation with a parent meeting. Next, she does follow-up and gathers more information before deciding if the allegation warrants human resources doing an investigation.
If there is an injury involved, Burnett said she has 48 hours to report the incident to CPS. The campus then will turn over the investigation.
Since Corley already had contacted CPS, Burnett said she did not. She did call in teachers involved or who could have witnessed the incident to write statements about what happened.
Rosalie returned to school the next day.
“I don’t think they’re taking this as severe as it is,” Corley said this past week. “I mean, the woman dug her nails into my kid. She still has marks on her arms, and it’s been three or four days now. She didn’t even want to go back to school.”
Burnett said she wants to assure parents that corporal punishment is not used at the campus, because some parents have expressed concerns.
“When they’re with us, we treat them as our own,” she said of students. “We believe in positive reinforcements. Grace and courtesy is what our philosophy is.”