Reporting Liz Collin
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A family who has fought for years to protect vulnerable children says a story WCCO first shared this week means more needs to be done.
Austin is a student at Rochester Century High School, has a severe case of autism and can’t speak.
Security cameras caught the moment when students say Austin’s paraprofessional got too rough and pushed him as the two were washing windows at school. The paraprofessional was suspended and removed from that position.
WCCO took a look back at a case that should have made a difference in how Austin’s was handled.
“It brings back a lot of awful memories that no parent should have to go through,” Lora Herman said.
Herman has been fighting for kids just like Austin for the last few years ever since what happened to her own son received statewide attention.
Kyle Herman’s kindergarten teacher dragged him by his thighs, put a bean bag chair on his back and sat on him. His parents wouldn’t learn exactly what went on for almost two years.
Now, Kyle’s Law says any abuse must be reported to parents within three days by the Minnesota Department of Education, and once an investigation is finished, they need to be told what was found.
In Austin’s case, his parents say they didn’t fully know what happened until they saw the video a month later, and they never knew that his paraprofessional was punished until the school district’s attorney told them.
“There are more things that need to be done,” Herman said.
Now, the Hermans are pushing for a federal law that says teachers found guilty of abuse won’t be allowed to teach again. In Kyle’s case, his teacher could get her license back this year.
Austin’s paraprofessional is still working in schools, only in maintenance now.
“It’s just shocking and hard to believe these things go on,” Herman said.
Lora says it only goes to show that their work isn’t over, doing what they can to keep Minnesota’s most vulnerable students safe.
“You need to take the place of the parent and look out for them because they’re not able to do so for themselves,” Herman added.
Kyle’s Law says it’s up to the Minnesota Department of Education to keep parents informed.
When WCCO asked that office what had happened, a spokesman said the information is protected by privacy laws.