Posted at: 10/21/2013 10:45 PM
By: Maria Guerrero, KOB Eyewitness News 4
A special-needs student is recounting the moment he says an APS teacher’s aide taped his mouth shut.
But the teacher’s aide says the incident didn’t happen how we’re being told.
Dolores Lopez spoke briefly with KOB Eyewitness News 4 late Monday night.
She didn’t deny she taped the boy’s mouth shut, but says it was done in a “playful act.”
Still, the boy is scared because Tuesday morning he’s going to see her in class.
He is a special needs boy, but don’t think for one second Augustine Reynoso doesn’t feel pain.
And a painful memory is all the 16-year-old with cerebral palsy has of school on September 24th.
"Dolores put the tape on me and then...” he said.
Asked where she put it, Reynoso responds, “On my mouth. On my mouth. And then I didn't know what to do.”
Dolores is Dolores Lopez, a teacher’s aide at Rio Grande High School where Reynoso is a junior.
APS place Lopez on leave for three weeks, one week without pay, as it investigated the allegations.
An eyewitness tells KOB, Reynoso was making animal noises in class.
He was told to stop, but didn’t.
Lopez then "got out the scotch tape and ripped off four pieces of the tape. She applied the tape from under the nose to the bottom of his chin. “Auggie” was moving his head back and forth asking her not to put it on."
Reynoso says he felt “sad” and “scared” when the tape was placed over his mouth.
His grandmother, Genoveva Alvarado stepped in when Reynoso’s mother rejected him.
"He's my first grandson. He's the oldest. He's mine. Imagine how much I love him"
She’s upset and fears this abuse could very well happen again.
"[Lopez] seems really nice when I talked to her. I never thought she would come to an extreme like this," she said.
What’s worse, Lopez is back at Rio Grande High School and back in the same classroom with her grandson.
“I never thought she would be allowed back,” said Alvarado. “I said: they're going to be careful to not allow her back in because if she just taped my boy what if tomorrow something else happens?”
Lopez cut our conversation short saying KOB needed to talk to the teacher’s union.
KOB asked APS to talk to us again today about the case. They declined saying this is a “personnel matter” and “the investigation is complete.”
It’s not clear whether APS will talk about why the teacher’s aide is still allowed to be in the same classroom as Reynoso.