Did Furr High School use mock polygraph to scare immigrant student?

- Just weeks after the Parkland High School shooting in Florida and months before the deadly Santa Fe High School shooting, a troubling scenario allegedly unfolded at the Furr High campus in the Houston Independent School District.

A male student, alarmed by a classmate's threat to "shoot up" the campus, reported his concern to HISD police and principals.

According to documents obtained by FOX 26 News, the campus officer produced a device he called a "lie detector" and ordered the student to submit to a test.

"Whatever they hooked up on him, they said if it dings, that means you are lying," described community activist and student advocate Gerry Monroe. "So whatever they strapped up to him, they made it ding. They made it ding and said that he was lying."

It is a stunning allegation, but one backed by Emilia Olvera-Ochoa, who works in the Furr High School office and spoke to the student just minutes after the so-called lie detector was administered.

"'They put me on the detector of liars and they said that the machine is on and I am liar — I am in trouble, Ms. Ochoa. I am very worried. What do I do? I need to report this to somebody,'" recounted Olvera-Ochoa of how the student described the incident.

In addition to being labeled a liar, activist Monroe said the whistleblowing student was threatened by the school principal with arrest and possible deportation.

"Now this child is terrified," said Monroe. "His grandmother, who is also an immigrant, is terrified."

It is a version of events confirmed by Furr employee Olvera-Ochoa

"'Mrs. Hernandez say she will put me in jail and I am very afraid of that, Ms. Ochoa,'" said Olvera-Ochoa, recalling the words of the student.

A spokesperson for Houston ISD told FOX 26 that the entire incident is currently under investigation by the district's police department.

Activist Monroe said if the probe proves a mock polygraph machine was in fact employed on the immigrant student with threat of jail and deportation, those involved should face more than termination.

"They should be prosecuted for what they did," said Monroe.

For her part, Olvera-Ochoa said she couldn't remain silent as a child's rights were violated with what she considers psychological abuse.

"I say maybe I will lose my work," said Olvera-Ochoa. "That does not matter because that is not fair, not fair for me, not fair for nobody."

A lingering question that remains unanswered is whether Furr administrators ever investigated the threat of a potential campus shooter or shared the student's warning with police off campus.

Houston ISD released the the following statement to FOX 26 News on Thursday evening:

Houston ISD is aware of allegations related to an incident at Furr High School. Please know we take these allegations seriously and are conducting a thorough investigation. Generally, HISD does not comment on open investigations; however, we want to emphasize that the Houston ISD Police Department does not employ the use of polygraph machines.
 
Additionally, Houston ISD respects the dignity of all students regardless of their immigration status.

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