In early March, a Rio Rancho special education teacher filed a police report against an 8-year-old student who has Autism, after he punched her in the face.
“I was not made aware that a police report had been filed against DJ,” said Maria McKay, the boy’s mother.
McKay found out a battery charge had been filed against her child when she got a call from a juvenile detention officer.
“Very shocking. Definitely was not prepared for a missed phone call from juvenile probation that my 8-year-old autistic child had failed to appear for a scheduled meeting. I called back and assured him there was a mistake,” said McKay.
According to the police report, DJ punched his special education teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in the face after she took an iPad away from him. She says, he hit her hard enough to bruise her nose.
McKay says the teacher triggered DJ by taking that iPad away from him. McKay says an iPad is a great source of comfort for her son. She also says the teacher yelled at DJ and ‘snatched’ the iPad out of his hands, which is not described in the police report.
“If you’re screaming at him, if you’re yelling at him, he is extremely overwhelmed. He may hit he may kick he may run. That is just how he communicates,” said McKay.
In the report, the teacher says this is not the first time something like this has happened.
She says, in the report, she wanted to document the incident and “didn’t feel she should have to expect to get battered by her students and be okay with it.”
Rio Rancho Public Schools would not talk to KRQE News 13 on camera. A spokesperson sent KRQE News 13 a statement saying:
“There was an incident in early March where a 2nd-grade student punched a staff member. We cannot speak to student or personnel matters, but I can say that the school did not initiate the police report. In addition, we cannot prevent a staff member from personally filing a report. That is his or her right.”
McKay is not defending her son’s actions.
“When he is in an environment that’s really loud he starts wailing hands and he has hit in the past. We’ve talked about it’s not okay to hit people and we need to come up with ways to better communicate with each other because hitting is not okay. He does understand that after the fact but he doesn’t understand that in that situation,” said McKay.
However, McKay does think his teacher should’ve known how to better de-escalate the situation.
“There’s a wide range on the autism spectrum and being able to identify from one end to the next, that’s where I feel like the public school system has really failed DJ,” said McKay.
DJ’s case is now moving through the legal process.
“He now has to appear in at juvenile probation next week for an appointment. He is absolutely terrified,” said McKay.
Despite the end of DJ’s suspension, McKay has chosen not to send her child back to school yet.
“I’ve chosen not to send my son to school this week because I found out about the report last week during spring break. I just felt this is not an environment that my son should return to,” said McKay.
McKay says her son will likely return when he is transferred out of this special education teachers class.
McKay told News 13 DJ is also no longer allowed at MLK’s after school program. A report shows, during the program DJ hit another teacher and tried to hit another student.
KRQE News 13 tried, but was unable to reach DJ’s special education teacher.