What was a counselor caught on camera doing to a special needs 7-year-old?

A Montgomery County counselor is out of a job after she was caught on camera being aggressive with a special needs student, however, the mother of the 7-year-old tells FOX 26 says she’s pushing for more than termination.

The Montgomery County mom calls what was caught on camera a crime being committed against her 7-year-old son, and she not only wants the counselor's job but also her freedom taken away.

"The video clearly speaks for itself. You can clearly see my son being attacked by this woman," says Brittney Leveston. 

The surveillance video Leveston is referring to was recorded from the screen as Montgomery County ISD officials showed the family what happened to their 7-year-old special needs son at Madeley Ranch Elementary. 

"I’m outraged, just emotional. I can’t believe he had to go through that," Leveston says. 

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The video shows the second-grader in a room alone with a special needs counselor. The mom is told he was being separated from another student and the counselor accompanied him because, "she was there to assist him with coping strategies." 

Leveston says if that’s the case, why after eight minutes of her 7-year-old laying by the door of the room does the video then show the counselor walk over to him appearing to initiate a conflict? Leveston says her son is seen trying to throw the tape at the counselor that he just picked from the floor and for several minutes the counselor and the 7-year-old scuffle on the floor.  

"And then you see this lady on the video just physically assaulting this kid. We’re talking about kid that’s a young little boy. This is not a teenager. This is not an 11 or 12-year-old, and you shouldn’t do it to them, and she was allowed to do this for an extended period of time. This wasn’t just for two or three minutes. It’s the worst video I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen several." says Community Activist Quanell X.

"She treated him as if he was trash, just a rag doll. You can clearly see where her nails dug down into his skin and he was really upset." Leveston adds. 


"When the child threw the tape at her, because he was having a fit, she decided she wanted to throw hands. So when you have someone, that’s of that caliber and of that magnitude, they need to be arrested, and they need to be held accountable to the full extent of the law." Dr. Candice Matthews with Rainbow PUSH Coalition says.  

Near the end of the 30-minute video, "You can see my son laying on the floor, not moving, and then she takes him by the left arm and just drags him across the floor," says Leveston. 

This happened in October 2021. The Montgomery County School Board voted to terminate the counselor in November 2021 and notified CPS. After their investigation, it was ruled there was no physical abuse.  


The Grimes County District Attorney’s Office also investigated after the Montgomery County DA’s Office recused itself for conflict of interest.  

Grimes County D.A. Andria Bender released the following statement: 
"A careful review of this case was conducted by the Grimes County District Attorneys’ Office. Based on a review of the evidence, the victim’s allegation cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury. Our office takes allegations involving children very seriously, as well as, our duty to seek justice. Furthermore, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services reviewed this case and ruled out any allegation of physical abuse on the part of the suspect. As our office has discussed with the family and their representative, this decision does not preclude any disciplinary action on the part of the school district against Ms. Tatem nor does it prevent any civil action in which they may choose to pursue."

"I think she needs to reconsider. What if this was her child? The counselor doesn’t need to be working with children. She needs to be in prison. That’s where she needs to be." says Leveston. 

The counselor may be able to work with children again depending on the outcome of a Texas Education Agency hearing which begins Friday as the counselor seeks to be reinstated.

FOX 26 spoke with the counselor, who after our initial report, her attorney issued a statement saying:

"She was, "accused of pinching a student on October 19, 2021, by the parent. Montgomery ISD administration reviewed the video footage of the incident and exonerated the Special Education Counselor. A month later, the parent filed a second allegation…when the Counselor asked why the mother was allowed to file the same complaint twice…a Montgomery ISD administrator told the Counselor 'because she didn’t get the answer she wanted the first time.' Montgomery ISD filed charges on the Special Education Counselor with CPS and law enforcement for pinching the student after the second allegation was filed…both CPS and Grimes County DA’s Office conducted their own investigations and found the counselor innocent of pinching or harming the student in any way. The Special Education Counselor is still employed with Montgomery ISD."

Although the district released the following statement:

"Montgomery ISD is aware of an incident that occurred between a student and a staff member at Madeley Ranch Elementary School in October 2021. The district takes these matters extremely seriously. After being notified of the incident, a district investigation was immediately initiated and the employee was removed from campus and placed on administrative leave. Immediately upon conclusion of the investigation, the district took the appropriate steps, in accordance with the employee’s employment contract, to recommend termination of the employee, and referred the matter to the District Attorney’s Office and Child Protective Services. 

Based on the Superintendent’s recommendation, during a public meeting, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to propose the termination of this employee. The employee has appealed this action to the Texas Education Agency and a hearing is scheduled in March. The district has worked collaboratively with law enforcement regarding this matter. However, once the case is referred to the District Attorney, the district has no influence or authority over what cases the District Attorney ultimately decides to prosecute. 

The Superintendent and other district leaders met with the parents of the student.  As required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records, the parents were given full access to the educational records of their student, which included viewing of video.  The school district will continue to adhere to the privacy requirements as set forth in FERPA. Providing safe learning environments for all students is our top priority in Montgomery ISD. Any conduct that runs contrary to this core value is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our district." 

The family of the 7-year-old says he’s been restrained before, but they don’t believe proper restraint training was exercised this time. They say he is now having nightmares, is traumatized, and they say they will continue to seek justice.