WELD COUNTY — The Weld County District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges against an Evans middle school teacher who taped a student to a chair, but it is unclear what her future holds.
Krista Henery, a spokeswoman for the office, said the office received the case for review about two weeks after the Oct. 16 incident. Henery said the office made the decision not to file formal charges Jan. 11, declining the Evans Police Department’s proposed charges of cruelty toward a child/child abuse and harassment.
Greeley-Evans School District 6 Spokeswoman Theresa Myers said administrators have since been trying to decide how to proceed with the teacher, who has been on paid administrative leave for more than three months.
Myers said Tuesday administrators are planning to consult legal counsel because the teacher is non-probationary, meaning she has worked for more than three years with the district and has additional protections under her contract. There is a long-term substitute teacher serving in her place at Prairie Heights Middle School, 3737 65th Ave., Myers said.
Police records detail how the event unfolded, but the Tribune is not identifying the seventh grade teacher because she was not formally charged.
Prairie Heights staff was first notified of the incident Oct. 18, two days after it occurred, when the parents of the boy who was taped to the chair showed up in the office upset. Staff had the students involved come to the office to write out statements, and a school resource officer spoke with the boy who was taped.
He told the officer he thought the teacher had taped his legs, chest and mouth with masking tape to teach him not to get out of his seat, but he didn’t understand why she taped his mouth, according to the report.
The boy’s parents told police they learned of the incident the same day it occurred, when their son came home nervous, embarrassed and upset after school. He told them his home-room teacher asked him to sit down during class, and when he didn’t, she taped him to a chair.
The boy told the officer the teacher invited other students in the class to take pictures or videos of the boy on their phones, and it made him “feel sad inside.”
Video evidence shows the teacher taping the boy to a chair while other students laugh and document the incident on their phones, one student placing a back massager upon the boy’s head.
It is unclear what the boy’s facial expressions showed during the event, for the video is redacted to protect the boy’s identity, but other students told police it seemed like the boy was initially surprised or confused, even laughing a little. Eventually, he looked mad.
The report states the parents were told they would receive a call from the teacher explaining the situation, but never received one.
The boy later told police he went to school on Oct. 17, the next day, and the teacher threatened to tape him again, this time stretching out duct tape and saying something to the effect of, “This is better tape,” according to the report.
He ran from his seat to a corner of the room and started crying, but his friends stopped him from leaving the room without a pass so he “wouldn’t get in more trouble,” according to the report.
Other students told police the teacher approached the boy that day and apologized to him.
Two days after the incident, administrators and district human resource representatives called the teacher to a conference room, and she handed over her school ID and keys, signing some paperwork. The teacher did not provide a statement to police.
The next day, several kids from the teacher’s class and a parent were in the office, upset and confused over what was happening, according to the report. The school resource officer took statements from 21 witnesses.
A staff member observed the boy crying in the cafeteria the same day. He told the staff member he was scared because his friends were hearing rumors that other kids were upset and making threats about the incident.
The boy’s parents told police their son doesn’t want to talk about the incident any more because he “feels like it is his fault for the teacher getting in trouble and feels like his peers are mad at him,” according to the report.
Myers said she does not know how long it will take for district officials to decide how to proceed with the teacher’s employment, but she expects it will be lengthy.
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