Teacher Accused of Making Student Eat Soap

Parents say their 5-year-old was forced to ingest soap by a special ed teacher at Sims Elementary

The Austin NAACP is demanding that AISD respond publicly to allegations that a special education teacher at Sims Elementary improperly disciplined a child. The parents say that the 5-year-old boy, who is African-American, was physically restrained and forced to ingest soap at Sims, a majority-black school in Northeast Austin. "That is atrocious, incredible, and only occurs in East Austin schools," NAACP President Nelson Linder said.

In a letter sent to parents on Feb. 24, Sims principal Texanna Turner acknowledged the allegations and said the teacher was placed on paid administrative leave. AISD will not comment on the case other than to say that AISD police are investigating the matter, have turned over information to the Travis Co. District Attorney, and anticipate presenting findings to a grand jury.

Linder would not say whether the group plans to file suit against the district, but said he believes the incident certainly bears "legal liability." At the very least, the NAACP wants the teacher fired, and wants AISD to apologize to the family, and to "quit hiding behind closed doors." Linder said the family was particularly outraged that no one from the district had contacted them in person to discuss the incident, other than the police officer sent to the family's house to retrieve the soap-covered shirt. He tied the issue to another controversial AISD move, a proposal under debate to close Oak Springs Elementary, which serves a large number of black children and is located in a historically African-American part of town that has lost schools before.

"In many ways, this is a metaphor for how black folks are treated in the entire independent school district," Linder said.

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Austin NAACPSims Elementary, Sims Elementary, special education, NAACP, Nelson Linder

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