Parents say student with Down syndrome was mistreated by teachers

- DeKalb County School Officials are investigating allegations a student with Down syndrome was mistreated by his own teachers.

The parents of 7-year-old Jeremiah Clark told FOX 5’s Portia Bruner a teacher at Hambrick Elementary raised a red flag in mid-November.

“That teacher came forward and said to me, ‘you need to pop up more often,’” Eric Clark told Bruner from his attorney’s office. “I said ‘Why?’ and she said there are some things that are going on that's not right. She told me the teachers are biting my son and pinching my son.”

Tijuana Bogans said the second grader is not able to verbally communicate well.

“He can’t tell us these things, so I’m glad the teacher did. But I feel like the teachers who did this should be out of the classroom completely,” Bogans said.

According to the parents, the teacher said the alleged behavior was a form of punishment.

“If my son bit another student, he was taken into the corner and then he was bitten, so whatever he did to someone, they did to him,” Jeremiah’s mother said.

DeKalb County School spokeswoman, Eileen Houston-Stewart, said she cannot discuss the details of this case, but did issue the following statement:

“The health and safety of all our students and staff are our most important priorities. We are aware of the allegations that have been made at Hambrick Elementary School, and we take all allegations we receive seriously. An investigation of the alleged incident is currently underway and involves several district departments. During the investigation, the district has taken appropriate action to protect the student.”

Houston-Stewart said she could not elaborate on that action, but Jeremiah’s mother said the principal of Hambrick Elementary did take steps to make her comfortable putting Jeremiah back in the Stone Mountain school.

“She said she is moving (the teachers) around and that they would no longer have any interaction with him as long as he was there. He still has to get an education and be in a learning environment so I’m glad they are moving them around. But I think they should not be allowed to be around any children, especially those with special needs who cannot voice their concerns themselves,” Jeremiah’s mother said.

The boy’s father said he hopes DeKalb County school investigators will take swift action.

“Me personally, I want charges brought against this teacher for putting their hands on my son. This should never happen to a seven year old child with Down syndrome or to any other child,” Clark said.

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