By Gale Fiege Herald Writer
MARYSVILLE — A teacher and an educational aide are on paid administrative leave from their jobs at Marshall Elementary School following an incident earlier this month in which the aide allegedly put a student in a closed closet for a time-out.
Marysville Assistant Superintendent Gail Miller said an independent investigation is ongoing and could last the remainder of the school year. The names of the employees involved won’t be made public during the investigation, Miller said.
On April 16, parents of students in the special education class received a letter from Marshall Elementary School Principal Kelly Sheward telling them that a substitute teacher had taken over the class.
Angi Wilson, a parent active in the school district, said her adopted second-grade daughter, who suffers from attention deficit disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome, was put in a “cool-down room” in the classroom.
“It’s a closet,” Wilson said. “It has boxes stacked in there and a ladder. We believe she was shoved or dragged into that closet.”
Miller said the school district is investigating.
“This is a serious concern brought forth by this parent,” Miller said. “The investigator will examine the allegations and find out whether this was an isolated incident or recurring problem. It will seek to find out if this is an accountability problem and whether the teacher and para-educator were following the student’s individualized educational program and what it says about time-out solutions to behavior problems.”
If the law was not followed, Miller said, the consequences will be serious. On the other hand, depending on the outcome of the investigation, it could be that the teacher and the aide will be told to get more training.
“There are lots of sides to this, including who knew what was going on,” Miller said.
Wilson, who last school year raised money for a van to be used by the Marysville Pilchuck High School Life Skills program for handicapped students, said she has never before had any problems with Marysville schools.
“Marshall Elementary has been fabulous for all my kids,” Wilson said. “Until this happened.”
According to Wilson, her daughter’s teacher told her that her daughter had been getting into trouble, that she was out of control and having tantrums. Wilson then consulted with her doctor.
“But my daughter hadn’t been doing this at home or with other people at school,” Wilson said.
The private investigation is paid for through the district’s insurance risk pool. Most likely it will be conducted by an attorney who is familiar with special education, Miller said.
“The district’s intention is to be forthcoming on this,” Miller said. “We will share what we are allowed to share as soon as we can.”
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; firstname.lastname@example.org.