APS Superintendent Brooks issues apology

Posted at: 10/22/2013 5:33 PM
Updated at: 10/22/2013 6:07 PM
By: Steve Mieczkowski, KOB.com

APS Superintendent Winston Brooks has issued a public apology to the family of a student with cerebral palsy.

Rio Grande High School student Augustine Reynoso had his mouth taped shut by a teacher's aide on September 24th.

The teacher's aide, identified as Delores Lopez, was subsequently placed on leave for three weeks, one of them without pay.

Lopez is now back at work at Rio Grande, and was placed back in the same classroom as Reynoso.

In an interview with KOB Eyewitness News 4, Lopez didn't deny taping Reynoso's mouth shut, but described the incident as a "playful act".

In a statement sent to KOB, Brooks admits that the incident should have never happened, and that Lopez should not have been placed back in the same classroom as Reynoso.

Below is the full statement from Brooks:

“I’d like to be very clear so there is no question about what I’m saying: it is never, ever acceptable to place any kind of scotch tape over the mouth of any student.  Unacceptable. Period.

The incident at Rio Grande High School that’s been widely reported shouldn’t have ever happened.  Because it is a personnel issue there are facts in the case that can’t be shared publicly.  

I watched the student and his grandmother on TV and can’t tell you how disappointed I am to know that any decisions made by our employees put this young man in harm’s way.

I do want to assure you that the employees in question did go through our due process system. Some may not agree with the terms of the discipline, but the process was followed.

Finally, it was a mistake to return the educational assistant to the same classroom as the student once her suspension was over. We apologize to the family for any angst this may have caused, and especially to the student who hasn’t brought any of this upon himself.

This is not the norm for APS. The vast majority of our employees go to great lengths to serve our students. That’s the expectation. Nothing less."