Video appears to show a Texas teacher throwing a student against a wall

ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — An administrator is no longer working at a special education school in Round Rock, Texas, after surveillance video appeared to show him grabbing a 14-year-old student and then throwing him into a room with the student banged his head against the wall.

Since May, the Texas Education Agency has said it was investigating the administrator for misconduct, although the agency said it could not share the nature of the investigation.

The Round Rock Independent School District said its investigation was closed but said the finding was a confidential personnel matter.

District officials said the administrator is still employed and working on administrative projects at headquarters but is no longer assigned to the campus where the incident occurred.

The student’s mother, Tatiana Alfano, provided email records showing that on the day of the incident, school officials said her son was sent to the “cold room” at the district’s GOALS Learning Center, a campus for high school students with special needs and primary disability emotional disorder.

According to an email from the school’s director of special education, the student was sent into the room for “yelling at the teacher and calling the teacher obscenities.” Hallway surveillance video shows the student trying to push past two teachers to get back into the classroom. The teachers then grab his arms and escort him to the rest room.

A second video shows the student leaning against the wall of the rest room with their arms crossed while the two teachers stand by the door for over a minute. Shortly thereafter, the administrator goes to the door where the teachers are standing.

As the two teachers walk away, the student begins to leave the room. Then the video shows the staff member grabbing the student and throwing him back into the room. The video shows the student banging his head against the wall.

After the student’s head hits the wall, the video shows him standing up and beginning to gesture at the staff with a slapping motion. The recording does not show the student hitting any of the staff. The school’s account of the incident said the student spat in the face of staff after hitting his head.

Shortly thereafter, video shows two of the staff, including the administrator, holding the student down for more than four minutes. He can be heard yelling, “I hate it here.”

The administrator did not respond to our requests for comment.

KXAN received this Round Rock ISD surveillance footage from the mother of the student featured in it. It was originally obtained from the family attorney during the course of this case and verified by the district. WARNING: It contains videos that some viewers may find sensitive.

In the special education director’s email to the student’s mother that day, administrators said: “The staff took him back to the rest room. He fell and hit his head.”

Ten days after the incident, Alfano viewed the surveillance video, according to email records.

“I thought that was a discipline issue that I would have to pull through here at home and I was willing to do that, but [my son] said, “No, you’re not listening, Mom. He threw me against a wall – and even I fired him,” Alfano said. “I think he felt a huge sense of relief.”

“I felt a huge amount of guilt,” she added.

Records show that the district reported the incident to the Texas Department of Children and Families on May 10 — the day after Alfano saw the video. The Texas Education Agency said the State Board of Educator Certification received a report from the district on the administrator the following day, May 11.

“Why did it have to wait for me to see it?” asked Alfano.

A Round Rock ISD spokesman said Monday: “The timing of the reports [is] regardless of when the parent viewed the video. The reports were prepared as soon as the district administration had the information it needed from the investigation.”

Records show that the Texas Department of Children and Families has already ruled out abuse.

“I have filed a complaint. I’ve gone through this all the way up the chain and I’ve been told by several people that it’s just not abuse because the definition of abuse has changed over the past few years,” Alfano said. “The result was that he was not injured badly enough to be classified as abuse.”

Alfano also believes it was illegal for the school official to stop her son from leaving the “cooling room.”

The legal term for the practice of isolating students, particularly students with special needs, is “timeout” under the Texas Education Code.

The law prevents school officials from locking the door to the room or physically blocking the exit. TEA guidelines also state that students “should not be physically restricted from leaving.”

Alfano has hired an attorney and said she wants to seek policy and law changes over this incident, including requiring districts to consult mental health professionals after a hold or time off.

A 2020 study conducted by the legal services organization Disability Rights Texas found that students with disabilities in Texas experienced 91% of all reported disabilities.

“I would take on the world for my son. Somehow I feel like I’m right there. I want to make legislative changes to protect… and now, like I said, it’s bigger than that [my son]’ Alfano said. Video appears to show a Texas teacher throwing a student against a wall

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