JCPS teaching assistant video

Cell phone video taken by a neighbor allegedly shows a Tully Elementary School teaching assistant shoving a student.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A family lawyer released video to WDRB News of what he argues is alleged abuse of a 3-year-old boy with special needs by a JCPS Head Start teaching assistant last year.

Teddy Gordon represents Esther Baldeon, whose son is in the video. He is referred to as A.H. in the lawsuit, which was filed in July. A.H. is non-verbal and has a sensory disorder.

Gordon said the counsel for the Jefferson County Board of Education submitted the unedited video to the court, hoping to have the case dismissed. Gordon argues the video proves the child was “shoved unnecessarily.”

In the cell phone video taken by a neighbor from behind the fence at Tully Elementary School, you can see the teaching assistant standing next to A.H. Gordon said she is attempting to get the child to walk to the far end of the property where the playground equipment is. A.H. does not move, so you can see her nudge him in the back with her hand, and he begins to walk forward a few steps. This happens six times in the video.

“I mean, to me, it’s disgusting,” Gordon said. “It’s despicable. It’s horrible. And these are our most vulnerable kids.”

At one point in the video, you can see a second teaching assistant walk by them and say something to A.H. Gordon said the woman is verbally encouraging him to come toward the playground to be with his friends.

He starts walking on his own then stops again. Finally, the first teaching assistant pulls him by the arm into the play area.

“I can’t believe anyone would believe that’s appropriate behavior for a teacher,” Gordon said. “But there’s no doubt it’s physical enough to propel him forward a few steps. And she keeps doing it and doing it and doing it again. Not in our schools, not with me.”

Gordon said the assistant should have followed the child’s Individual Education plan and got on the boy’s eye level to encourage him to walk forward.

In court Friday for a procedural hearing, the attorney for the Jefferson County Board of Education said the board, teachers and administrators named in the lawsuit are immune to being sued in this situation, because how a teacher gets a child onto a playground falls under discretionary duties. He said it is their position that the case should be dismissed.

Gordon said that argument is “ridiculous.”

“She’s responsible to get the kid from Point A to Point B,” he said. “And she chose to shove him in the back of the head to propel him forward.”

A.H. was not physically harmed during the incident. The boy’s mother is suing for $2,800 to cover the cost of enrolling him in a new day care and the extra therapy sessions he required afterward.

“We’re arguing a case worth $2,800,” Gordon said. “Damages don’t matter. You can see what the principle is, as to why we’re in this case. Is that behavior to be allowed by a teacher’s assistant of a 4 year old in Jefferson County Public Schools?”

Earlier this year, JCPS voted to do away with the Head Start program after dozens of abuse allegations surfaced.

“And this is exactly what destroyed Head Start,” Gordon said. “We lost a $15 million grant, because we were going to get kicked out anyhow. And I don’t know how anybody can condone this.”

The judge set the next pre-trial hearing for Feb. 7. Gordon said the family hopes this goes to trial after that.

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