DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas ISD officials suspended three employees without pay for three days and reprimanded seven others after a months-long investigation found they used inappropriate disciplinary techniques toward students at Ebby Halliday Elementary.
After the school opened last fall, students claimed the staff forced them to eat with their hands behind their backs and on the floor.
The district says those claims are unfounded, but the reprimanded staffers –– which includes the school’s former principal –– did not speak Spanish, which “led to confusion, hostility and distrust in the Halliday Elementary community,” according to a DISD media release.
“This in turn led to many of the allegations against Dallas ISD employees in the OPR (Office of Professional Responsibility) report,” the release says.
A Dallas-based Latino activist says the district didn’t go far enough in its punishment, however.
LULAC’s deputy state director Beatrice Martinez is calling for an outside investigation into what happened at the school last fall.
“This is not a harsh enough punishment,” she said.
The district says the employees in question did not receive their state-required training on reporting child abuse. DISD spokesman John Dahlander said they will attend training on reporting child abuse, classroom management and proper disciplinary action.
“It is a serious violation and we can and will do better,” he said. “We have 230 campuses. We had this take place at one, so I don’t think this is indicative of what’s happening throughout the school district.”
As a result of the findings, DISD administrators say they’re now developing a diversity training program for all employees district-wide.
But Martinez says that should’ve been in place long before the investigation.
“Why hasn’t it been done all along,” she asked.
So far, DISD has only released initial findings of the months-long investigation. Twenty-two employees were investigated, three were suspended and seven were reprimanded.
Dahlander said the district spent more than 500 hours interviewing more than 80 witnesses and analyzing 100 exhibits. The media release says legal issues prevent the district from announcing specific disciplinary measures beyond the suspensions.
Martinez wants to see the whole report.
“They can say whatever they want, OK; I believe the children,” she said.
The suspended principal requested a transfer to another school last fall. A district spokesman said administrators have not received any complaints from parents at the new school and that the situation at Halliday has dramatically improved.
An interim principal has been in place since the fall. The names of the employees in question were not released.