Reporting Liz Collin
ROCHESTER, Minn. (WCCO) – A Minnesota mother says a school aid went too far with her son, and she says there’s video to prove it.
For 15 years, Jade Werth has been the voice for her son Austin, who was born with a rare form of autism and can’t speak. Austin has had more challenges than most, but has never been one to act up.
“He’s just an all-around sweet, loving child,” Werth said.
Even as his advocate, nothing could have prepared her for the call that came two months ago.
“Absolutely, literally sick. Sick,” she said.
The Department of Education was investigating after some students at Rochester’s Century High reported that Austin’s paraprofessional was being too rough with him.
The two were washing windows, something his mom had no idea he did at school.
“He had no awareness. He was not washing windows whatsoever,” she said.
For weeks, Jade was left to wonder what exactly happened until she saw the security video for herself.
“Watching them is terrifying as a parent,” said Werth.
In the video, Austin’s para pushes him toward the window several times. And when Austin starts to struggle to stand, the para appears to push him even more.
Jade wasn’t told about the incident for nearly a week, and still has a hard time talking about what her son must have been feeling.
“Being afraid. Being afraid to be in school, that’s not right. That’s not ok,” she said.
The school district suspended Raymond Paske for five days. He’s no longer a paraprofessional and has been moved to a maintenance position.
In a statement, the district’s attorney said the case is considered closed, and that “Rochester schools provide a world-class education and even the best districts have personnel issues.”
It’s not good enough for Jade, who wants Paske out of schools altogether. She’s exploring what legal options she has, and says she’ll continue to speak up for her son.
“There has to be a change. There has to be,” she said.
Police also investigated Paske for the incidents. They turned over their findings to the county attorney who will decide if any criminal charges should be filed.
Paske did not return WCCO’s phone calls.