Parents: Son smacked by elementary school’s teacher’s aide

DANIA BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - The parents of a student at a Broward County elementary school student are looking for answers after, they said, their son was struck by a teacher’s assistant, earlier this month.

According to the mother, her 5-year-old son Damion, who attended Collins Elementary School, in Dania Beach, was held down by the aide and smacked in the face with an open palm, back on Nov. 7.

The family added that they received a phone call from the school that their son, who is autistic, was linked to a child abuse investigation.

“Initially, I was really shocked, you know, hearing that he was named in an investigation of child abuse,” said Dexter Smith, the boy’s father.

“They proceeded to tell me that his mouth was being covered to keep him from screaming,” said Ahilyn Zamora, the boy’s mother. “I understood that he was smacked in the face first, and that he was either smacking himself or his own hand was used to smack him.”

Damion’s parents said they immediately pulled their son out of Collins Elementary.

Zamora said her son is high-functioning, but is, for the most part, nonverbal. She said she and his father are able to communicate with him, but it takes special training to do so.

“He can’t have a normal conversation like a 5-year-old, but he can go ahead and feed himself,” said Zamora.

The teacher’s assistant has since been reassigned elsewhere in the district. “I would like criminal charges. She shouldn’t be working in a school with children,” said Smith. “You know, I think it takes patience to be any kind of teacher, but it takes a lot of patience to be around children with special needs, and she doesn’t have it. She failed.”

Broward County Public Schools spokeswoman Tracy Clark released a statement that read: “Upon becoming aware of allegations regarding a classroom assistant, school administration took swift action and immediately removed the employee from the classroom. School administration contacted all appropriate agencies, including the District’s Special Investigation Unit. In addition to being removed from the classroom, the employee was removed from the school and has been reassigned.”

According to the Broward Sheriff’s Office, there have been some incidents involving several other students.

School district officials said the aide is still being investigated.

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