An attorney for a Fort Bend County parent is hoping that changes will happen for special needs students, as well as seeking justice for an alleged abusive teacher.
Speaking at a press conference Tuesday outside the Lamar Consolidated ISD administration building, Samuel Wesley, the attorney representing the family of a special needs child at George Ranch High School, said he asked the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office to investigate former George Ranch teacher Regina Thurston. This came after a video from December 2018 showed Thurston knocking down desks and chairs and telling a child to pick them up.
Wesley said that the DA’s office tried to pursue felony charges against Thurston, but the case was no billed. He said the office is looking into possible misdemeanor charges.
LCISD issued a statement after the videos were released that Thurston was placed on administrative leave following the incident and she resigned the next month. LCISD also said that she was reported to the police and is under investigation by the Texas Education Agency.
The mother of the child, who wants to be identified only as “April,” said that her son has been diagnosed with Rubenstein-Taybi syndrome and is autistic. Because of his disability, teachers were given an individualized education plan and a behavioral intervention plan.
Karen Cunningham, who is the child’s advocate, said that Thurston did not follow the behavioral plan for the child.
April said she removed her son from George Ranch in the 2018-19 school year, but is back at George Ranch this school year, albeit as a part-time student. She said she put the child back in school after several staff members were removed, including the principal.
She also said she is satisfied with the current teachers and staff at George Ranch.
“I don’t want what happened to my son to simply be forgotten without change,” April said. “I want change for my child and all children with special needs, whether it’s autism, special needs, or physical challenges.
“This isn’t an LCISD issue. It is a statewide – even nationwide issue.”
She asked for more special education teachers who have specialties in dealing with students with learning differences. She also asked that school districts have better hiring practices for special education teachers, and more training and support for those teachers.
April also asked for more cameras in special education classrooms to allow parents and administrators to see how teachers deal with the students.
Wesley hopes to work with local and state lawmakers to try to get more funding from the state for more training for special needs students.