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Video shows Texas teacher mistreating boy with special needs, family says

In one video, the teacher knocks a desk and chairs to the ground and makes the boy pick them up. The district said the teacher was immediately placed on leave.

The family of a Texas high school boy with special needs who was mistreated by his teacher has released videos of the incident in hopes that it doesn't happen to another child.

The incident dates to December 2018, when a teacher at George Ranch High School in Richmond, about 30 miles southwest of Houston, is seen knocking over a desk, grabbing the boy by the arm and making him pick up the desk.

The teacher then knocks two chairs to the floor.

"Pick it up. Pick it up. That's how I feel. Keep going. Pick that one up," she says in a video the family's attorney, Samuel Wesley, released on Facebook on Saturday. "See how it is when you turn stuff over? It's not fun, is it?"

The teacher, identified by Wesley as ReGina Thurston, tells the boy that he's going to clean up the entire room and then proceeds to throw stuff on the floor and make the teenager pick it up.

In another video, Thurston is seen grabbing the boy and yelling at him. A third video appears to show an adult kick the boy while he stands in a school hallway.

Image: George Ranch High School in Rosenberg, Texas
George Ranch High School in Rosenberg, Texas.Google Maps

The boy's mother says in a video released by Wesley that her son lacks verbal communication skills and cannot defend himself.

"The teacher is being harsh, cruel and treating my son as if he were an animal," she says.

Wesley said in a Facebook post that the school waited several weeks before contacting the boy's mother to tell her about the incident.

Lindsey Sanders, community relations director for the Lamar County Independent School District, said in a statement Tuesday that Thurston was immediately placed on administrative leave as the school investigated. She resigned in January 2019, Sanders said.

"We believe all classrooms in Lamar CISD should be a safe place for our students," the district's statement read. "Clearly, the District does not condone Ms. Thurston's treatment of the student as shown in these videos, which is why swift action was taken. ... Following this incident and prior to the start of this school year, all campus administrators attended a training that reinforced the high expectations we have for our staff to maintain a safe, nurturing environment on all our campuses."

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The boy's family will meet with school officials next week to begin a due process hearing. Wesley wrote in his Facebook post that the family asked that the hearing be open to the public "to make sure this NEVER happens again in a Special Education classroom."

An attorney for Thurston said in a statement that allegations that she was abusive were untrue.

"The techniques that Mrs. Thurston employed are based on the student's individual needs and on a specific discipline management theory," the statement said.