Parents of Special Needs Students Blame Teacher for Nail Marks on Children’s Arms

The Chula Vista Elementary School District allowed the teacher to go back to work at Tiffany Elementary School after an investigation into complaints

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Some parents of five-year-old special needs children at Tiffany Elementary School said they were "disgusted and frightened" that their children's teacher is allowed to go back into the classroom after finding nail marks on their children's arms.

Their children are all on the spectrum with mild to moderate autism.

On Dec. 6, after picking her son up at school, Jennifer Cate said, "I noticed he had a little scratch on his hand."

She said she didn't think anything of it, and nonchalantly asked him what happened to his hand.

"He said 'my teacher, my teacher, she slapped my hand and I said stop hurting me.'"

Cate said she was shocked and left a message with the principal. Then she reached out to another parent who had voiced similar concerns.

"That's when I said OK, this is a bigger problem,'" she told NBC 7.

Michelle Canlas said her five year old also came home with nail marks, "very deep nail marks." At first she brushed it off, assuming her son got hurt while playing with another child.

When she heard Cate's story, she asked her son about the marks. Canlas said her son is not totally verbal, but will answer a question when asked.

"Every time I ask him who hurt him, he says nobody's name, but the teacher's," Canlas said.

The Chula Vista Elementary School District told NBC 7 it "conducted a thorough investigation into the allegations raised against the employee. At the conclusion of the investigation, the District took appropriate personnel action and enacted procedures to ensure that students are safe and secure in the school environment. The District will be monitoring the situation as the teacher returns to work."

But parents say the district is "sweeping the problem under the rug." Cate said the parents were not asked to present evidence, and other parents in the class were not questioned about the allegations.

"How did they conduct this investigation?" asked Cate. "It's a joke to think that, really, they did anything about this."

Cate said her son is "verbal, potty trained, and non-aggressive" and she believes what he said.

"We are trying to teach these children who are essentially non-verbal to have a voice and we don't listen to that voice, and I just refuse to do that. So, I'm going to do whatever it takes to make sure my son is safe," she said.

Canlas said, "For me, I feel so afraid, not only for my son, but for the kids that are in there who are still with her, because they allow her to come in and teach again."

NBC 7 is not using the teacher's name because she is still teaching at the school. NBC 7 was not able to reach the teacher Monday for comment.

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