An Atlanta teacher’s aide is facing serious charges after he and another teacher’s aide were caught on camera seemingly physically assaulting special education students.
An unidentified special education teacher says she tried to tell officials at Harper-Archer Middle School that Alger Coleman and Keisha Smith, both teacher’s aides, were putting their hands on students. The school failed to investigate, so the teacher says she was left with no choice but to get recorded proof.
The brave teacher set up a hidden camera in her classroom and was able to get shocking footage of Coleman hitting a non-verbal special needs student as well as Smith putting her hands on a different non-verbal, autistic student. Finally, after the school saw recorded proof, they took action.
Coleman was fired from the school, arrested, and now faces charges of child cruelty and simple battery.
Smith, however, is still employed by the school and has yet to be charged with anything.
"I was heartbroken. I was very heartbroken," said the mother of the 11-year-old autistic student assaulted by Smith. "I really couldn't believe the school was letting this go on. I want her charged. Yes. Today. Like seriously, today.”
Following the incident, the brave teacher, identified simply as Mrs. J., decided to leave Atlanta Public Schools.
"I haven't been the same,” said the anonymous teacher to 11 Alive News. “I haven't been able to return to the work environment.”
Atlanta Public Schools have refused to comment on the specifics of the case, but they did release a statement to WSBTV saying that they are taking steps to do the right thing.
"Your specific questions concern pending personnel matters and APS cannot comment on such matters,” said APS spokeswoman Kimberly Green in the statement. “However, Atlanta Public Schools can confirm that Alger Coleman is no longer with the district and Ms. Smith has been reassigned pending a disciplinary conference. The safety and security of our students remain a top priority for Atlanta Public Schools. The district takes all complaints seriously and reporting behavior that is harmful to our students is everyone's responsibility."
The parents of both students are planning to file lawsuits, and APS hasn’t seemed to take responsibility for ignoring the teacher’s complaints from the start.