COVINGTON, LA — A lawsuit filed Friday in St. Tammany Parish court details abuse allegations involving special needs students at Covington Elementary School. On Tuesday, WDSU learned of another lawsuit filed in June that made similar allegations.
The lawsuit that was filed in June alleges that last school year, a Covington elementary teacher and paraprofessionals in the class encouraged a student to rub his own genitals.
The document alleges the teacher and her assistants created a nightmarish classroom where verbal and physical abuse of disabled students was allowed and even encouraged.
Court records show the school responded, filing an answer that denied those allegations. WDSU spoke with a mother, who we are not naming, who is a part of the lawsuit that was filed last week. She spoke to us for the first time Tuesday.
“I don’t want to send him back to school,” she said. “I don’t want it to happen again. I am afraid because he cannot tell me what’s happening, and he cannot even say no if someone does anything to him.”
“There’s obviously a pattern here,” attorney Charles Branton said.
Branton is representing the woman WDSU spoke with, and two other families.
Branton’s lawsuit alleges a parent put a recording device in her son’s shirt after he allegedly continued to come home with marks on his body. It also alleges that a teacher can be heard stating she wanted to break a student’s fingers and that there’s audio documentation of a teacher kicking a student in the chest and saying she hopes a sleeping student never wakes up.
Both documents allege each child suffered not only physical and emotional injuries, but also had their development delayed.
“We are starting school on Thursday; they are afraid and I can’t blame them,” Branton said.
St. Tammany Parish school officials tell WDSU that four of their employees no longer work at the school, the district, said as a result of the allegations.
The school declined to do an on-camera interview, citing this being a legal matter.