Lt. Governor calls for investigation of special education abuse allegations

A champion for the safety of students with special needs, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has been following the exclusive FOX 26 News investigation into a Katy Independent School District elementary campus and is intervening on behalf of angry parents.

"There have been alleged actions by multiple parents and the school district has swept it under the rug, in my view," said Lt. Gov. Patrick. He is referring to Randolph Elementary School.

In April and early May, classroom aides made an outcry to the campus principal. According to Katy ISD documents, the paraprofessionals claimed that disabled children as young as three years old were being verbally abused, physically mistreated and strapped into a chair as punishment by the classroom teacher.

"It's sickening to know that that was going on in that classroom," said Chris Diaz, father of an autistic student considered a potential victim.

One parent later wrote, "I felt strongly that the safety of the students was in jeopardy."

But Principal Kristen Harper waited more than a month before contacting Child Protective Services, the Katy ISD Police Department and the parents of potential victims.

Inexplicably, Katy ISD police opened and shut its investigation of serial child abuse in a matter of hours without ever interviewing the eyewitnesses.

Lt. Gov. Patrick now says Katy ISD has some explaining to do.

"I want to see what the school district is doing or not doing," said Lt. Gov. Patrick who pushed through legislation mandating cameras in special education classrooms in the last session of the Texas legislature. "When you have multiple complaints about one teacher from parents, it should be investigated. It was not by the principal. It was not by the police department, to my knowledge, and I am going to talk to the education commissioner about this," 

Lt. Gov. Patrick is also alarmed by documents which indicate that the special education teacher was suspected of mistreating children at a different district and despite the allegations at Randolph Elementary, was still allowed by Katy ISD to resign during the summer without any sanction.

"Some superintendents and some principals don't report it," said Lt. Gov. Patrick. "It's called passing the trash. Let’s get rid of our bad teachers."

FOX 26 is awaiting comment from Katy ISD on Lt. Gov. Patrick's call for an investigation.