Because of the holidays, it took nearly 2 weeks to complete the investigation, and two full months for me to get the report from the Minnesota Department of Education, Division of Maltreatment. Things take time.....I know...it's hard to be patient. Please not that any highlighted text is mine, and was not included in the report.
So the report starts out with lots of explanatory stuff, including the definition of maltreatment.
Minn. Stat. 626.556, Subd. 2(g),physical abuse
- Physical abuse means any physical injury, mental injury or threatened injury inflicted by a person responsible for the child's care on a child other than by accidental means, or any physical or mental injury that cannot reasonably be explained by the child's history of injuries or any aversive or deprivation procedures, or regulated interventions, that have not been authorized under section 121A.67.
- Corporal punishment means conduct involving hitting or spanking a person with our without an object or unreasonable physical force that causes bodily harm or substantial emotional harm and is not allowed to reform or penalize student conduct.
- The eleven year old student has Down Syndrome. She participates in mainstream education with support from paraprofessionals.
- The Student's parent reported that the student is hearing impaired has conduct disorder, and difficulty with her attention span.
- There were no reports of injury to the student as a result of the incident.
- The Student was not interviewed because of her developmental delays and because she had been asked about the incident on several occasions.
- School officials became aware of the incident when the Student's classmates were overheard talking about it.
- The Student and several other students told school officials that the paraprofessional had slapped the student's face after the student had slapped the paraprofessional.
- The paraprofessional was interviewed by school officials and denied that she had slapped the student.
- The MDE investigator and the police interviewed five students. Two of the five students who were interviewed did not see the incident.
- Witness 1 reported that the student's classroom of students were lined up to go to the art room.
- Witness 1 heard a slap and then saw the paraprofessional slap the student. Witness 1 described the contact as "really hard" and reported that the paraprofessional used the palm of her hand to slap the student's cheek.
- Witness 1 reported that after the student was slapped she cried.
- Witness 1 is "absolutely sure" she saw the paraprofessional slap the student in the face.
- Witness 2 reported that the student was mad and hit the paraprofessional. Witness 2 reported that she saw the paraprofessional slap the student's face.
- Witness 2 reported that she heard the slap which sounded like hands clapping and then heard the student saw, "Owe."
- Witness 3 reported that the student was angry. Witness 3 reported that the paraprofessional slapped the student with an open hand. Witness 3 reported that he could also hear the sound of the slap.
- Witness 4, a school employee, did not see the incident but heard several students talking about how the paraprofessional had slapped the student.
- Witness 4 reported that the student told her that the paraprofessional had hit her.
- Witness 4 reported to her supervisor that the student told told her the paraprofessional had slapped her in the face.
- The paraprofessional was interviewed by the school's officials after the incident.
- The paraprofessional reported that the student had slapped her. The paraprofessional did not report to school officials that she had slapped the student.
- The paraprofessional was interviewed by the police and the MDE investigator on December 4, 2007.
- The paraprofessional reported that on the day of the incident the student was presenting some challenging behaviors which was not unusual for the student.
- The paraprofessional reported that the student had slapped her face twice. The paraprofessional responded by informing the student that her behavior was inappropriate.
- The paraprofessional did not immediately report to the police and MDE investigator that she had slapped the student.
- When the paraprofessional was informed that several witnesses saw her slap the student, she reported that she had touched the student's cheek but not hard enough to be regarded as a slap.
- The paraprofessional later admitted that she had probably slapped the student reflexively but not intentionally.
- The paraprofessional reported that she was not angry or irritated with the student.
- The paraprofessional reported that she had not admitted this to school officials because she was overwhelmed by feelings of embarrassment, shock, and guilt.
- The paraprofessional reported that she knew that hitting students was prohibited.
- It is the determination of the Minnesota Department of Education that there was no maltreatment on the part of the facility ......................................pursuant to Minn. stat. 626.556
- It is the determination of the Minnesota Department of Education there is a preponderance of evidence to show that maltreatment occurred on the part of the paraprofessional for the following reasons.
b. There are eyewitnesses accounts from the student and three witnesses that the paraprofessional slapped the student.
c. The paraprofessional did not admit to school officials that she slapped the student. However, when she was interviewed by the police and the MDE investigator she reported that she had slapped the student reflexively.
d. Therefore, there is a preponderance of evidence that physical abuse in the form of corporal punishment occurred on the part of the paraprofessional as defined in Minn. Stat. 626.556 Subd. 2(g)
So, I have lots of questions for the county attorney. You know, the one who told me, "maybe it's about time someone tells her (Angela) it's not ok to act this way." and that "The paraprofessional acted in self defense." which is one of the reasons they're not going to pursue prosecution.
Well, in this report the para never says anything about "self defense", she says she acted "reflexively". There is a BIG DIFFERENCE between the two!!!! In a situation of self defense a para could have a) blocked the blow from Angela b) pushed her away or c) moved away from her. This person didn't do any of those things. Instead she reacted, striking back.
There are those reading who feel that I don't put enough blame on Angela, including the county attorney. I have countless assessments and reports from various professionals (psychologists, behavioral specialists, and medical staff) that all state that not only is Angela not capable of impulse control, but that she also does not think in terms of "If I do X, I'm going to get into trouble." She is also not able to connect a consequence to what she's done after about 30 seconds. In other words, doing things like suspending her for misbehavior would serve no purpose, because she is not able to connect that this punishment is for something that happened yesterday or many days prior. She's not even able to connect these things on more immediate basis, such as time outs. Clearly, she is a difficult child to deal with at times. I know...I live with her...I spend hours out of every day trying to think ahead at the next transition or request I'm going to be making of her, and how I'm going to handle the fall-out...all BEFORE it actually happens.
People in a caregiver position have no business being there if they're not able to display some self control. It is not easy working with a student who presents the behavioral challenges that Angela does. Every staff person who works with her knows how difficult she is, including this particular substitute who had worked with her many times over the past 3 years that Angela has been in this school. Every staff person has the right to say, "I'm sorry, but working with this student is beyond my skills and training." and SHOULD say so, to avoid this very type of situation.
As things stand now, there is nothing preventing this person from working in another district. Never mind that she lied to investigators. Never mind that she admitted to acting reflexively. Never mind that she works with vulnerable students who cannot defend themselves. This WILL happen AGAIN...it's only a matter of time. Next time it might be YOUR child. What will you do about it? Will you go to every news station in the city as I have? Not a single one has returned my calls. Will you file a civil suit? Good luck...in Minnesota you won't be able to. You won't even be able to get copy of the police report about the incident. No...because you might use the information in a malicious manner. Apparently I'm not allowed to defend my child, so yours may be the one to suffer next.