APS Superintendent Brooks speaks out about mouth taping incident

Posted at: 10/22/2013 10:40 PM
By: Maria Guerrero, KOB Eyewitness News 4

APS Superintendent Winston Brooks
APS Superintendent Winston Brooks

One of the many people who saw Monday night’s story about a special needs student who had his mouth taped shut at school was the head of Albuquerque Public Schools.

APS Superintendent Winston Brooks is apologizing.

His story has touched and angered many.

Augustine Reynoso, 16, recounted what he says happened at Rio Grande High School at the hands of his teacher’s aide, Dolores Lopez.

"Dolores put the tape on me…On my mouth," he said.

The leader of APS also watched Reynoso’s heartbreaking story.

“I was horrified actually,” said Brooks on Tuesday evening. “I was sitting there thinking it's too bad something like this happened in the district that I'm superintendent in. I was extremely touched by the child who has cerebral palsy and yet you can tell he has super intelligence."

Dolores Lopez doesn’t deny she taped the boy’s mouth shut, but says it was done “in a playful act.”

“If somebody came up to me and put masking tape or scotch tape on my mouth I wouldn't think it'd be too funny,” said Brooks. “To do that to a handicapped youngster makes it even worse.”

Still, Lopez is now back at Rio Grande. And to the dismay of many, was allowed back into the same classroom with the teen.

Brooks calls this a “mistake.”

After our story, Lopez was moved to a different classroom.

"I am sorry that the EA was put back in the same classroom with the student," said Brooks.

Asked why Lopez is still working at APS, Brooks said, “There are always two sides to every story and there's a lot more that's got nothing to do with the young man.

Has more to do with the classroom dynamics and some other kinds of things that I can't go into.”

Augustine Reynoso opted not to go to school on Tuesday.

His superintendent assures him, it is safe to return.

"That [educational assistant] will not be in his classroom," said Brooks.

Brooks say he supports the district’s discipline committee which handed Lopez a three week suspension, one week was unpaid.