NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. - A Yulee Primary School teacher's aide is under investigation for alleged inappropriate conduct against a special needs student.
Since December, First Coast News reported on two other Yulee staff members who were the subject of school and Department of Children and Family Services investigations.
The allegations include both physical and verbal abuse against children who are non-verbal.
Donald Green says his son, Evan was involved in a February incident at Yulee. Evan has Down Syndrome and Green says his son has anxiety associated with anyone touching his face or head.
"We have to take him to the hospital and have him put him to sleep to his his teeth cleaned," Green says. "We have to wait until he's asleep to cut his hair. Touching him in that area is like torture to him." Green says Evan's teachers are aware of his son's heightened sensitivity which came from years of medical tubes being in and near his ears.
Five other Yulee personnel reported the seeing the aide "pulling a student by his ear" to get him out of a sandbox and to bring the student back to the lunch table.
Around February 28, Green said the school informed him of an incident and said he'd be kept updated. After two weeks, Green says he received no calls. At a school board meeting March 9, the aide received approval to be transferred on April 13 to Callahan Elementary. Nassau County School District spokesperson Mark Durham said the aide will not be working with special needs children at Callahan.
"You would never lift a child up off the ground by his ears, never," says Green. "Whether he was special needs or normal."
Green joins other parents in wanting more extensive training for aide's who work with special needs children, and the installation of cameras in classrooms.
Durham says paraprofessionals are typically not certified and don't have degrees higher than a high school diploma. Previous experience with special needs children is not required and training is done in-house, says Durham. He expects NCSD will look into more training in light of recent incidents because he says aides "haven't been trained well enough."
However Durham says each incident that's brought to their attention is investigated and taken to the proper authorities when warranted.
DCF could not confirm whether NCSD had opened an investigation into the aide who worked with Evan. The Nassau County Sheriff's Office also said they were not at liberty to confirm if they had been contacted by the district. However, a police report filed by Green shows the sheriff's office has not closed its battery case against the aide.