A Texas elementary school instructor accused of roughing up a five-year-old in a purported disciplinary incident captured on video has resigned.
Officials launched an investigation based on the resulting video.
On Monday, Snook Independent School District Superintendent Brenda Krchnak confirmed the male instructor, a behavior specialist, was no longer employed with the district. Although she did not share his name, KVUE identified him as Troy Vann. In a district site search, Vann’s name appears, although his profile is no longer listed in the staff directory.
The Burleson County Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation into the matter. The recording showed the specialist picking up and pushing down a five-year-old boy from a bean bag chair in what KBTX described as a cool down room.
A Snook parent named Stacy LeeAnn Gutierrez (Williams) posted the video Thursday on her Facebook wall. Her 14-year-old son and Snook ISD student, Exzavier Williams, witnessed the incident. He filmed what appears to be a portion of it.
The recording starts while the instructor reprimands the youngster. He says: “…Tell me, no? When I tell you to do something, you do it (pause) boy.” With his hand, the specialist shoves the boy’s head back into the bean bag. Not everything he or the child says is audible. “When I tell you to sit down on the blue bean bag, you do it. Let’s try it again,” the specialist says. He appears to yank the child from the bean bag, saying: “Get on the blue bean bag. I said get on the blue bag.”
The 14-year-old Williams gave KTRK his take on what happened. “The kid said F-you and called him the B word. The guy said the same thing back to him.” Williams added: “He didn’t want to sit down on the blue bean bag, so the guy was getting mad. So I thought I should record it because I knew he was going to do something. Then he decided to pick the kid up and body slam on the bean bag multiple times.”
On Saturday, Krchnak issued a statement applauding the school’s secondary principal for expeditiously obtaining video evidence from school surveillance and Williams’ phone. She stated: “As the student who made the video recording was not permitted to possess a recording of another student, the principal took the video recording from the student, and preserved it as part of the initial investigation.”
School policy dictated protecting the privacy of the five-year-old boy. However, Williams’ mother apparently had a copy and decided to post it on Facebook, outraged by the specialist’s behavior. She told KBTX, in part: “I was hurt because that could have been mine or somebody else’s kid.” Reportedly, she has since pulled her 14-year-old son from the school district.
Krchnak ordered a review of faculty and staff use of discipline and restraint. “Our top priority is for our students to be treated in a safe and respectful manner when they are in our care,” she noted. Snook ISD is working with law enforcement and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to investigate the matter. Prior to this incident, the district had “no indications of concern regarding this employee’s conduct.” Krchnak said background checks were conducted prior to his August 2015 employment.
KTRK named the pre-K student as Kane Brown and his mother as Jessica Boson. She said she first learned of the incident on Facebook. Boson described her “emotional” reaction to watching the cell phone video. “I was very angry and it was hurtful that something like that would be done to my child. It was unbelievable.”
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