On Tuesday, we heard from six-year-old Mark who says he was left alone inside a locked classroom at Peter Pendleton Elementary School in Coachella by his teacher because he didn’t finish his classwork. His mom Roxanne says he’s a special needs student and the school is aware of his diagnosis.
“I got left alone from class and I started crying,” says Mark.
The Coachella Valley Unified School District Superintendent Maria Gandera says she’s sorry for the misunderstanding, “We’re sorry, I‘m sorry that it happened.”
But Gandera says the picture being painted by the student and mother is inaccurate, “I do not for one second think that the teacher left the student in the classroom unattended, ever meant to, or ever did I think she walked him out to lunch with everybody else and then through a series of circumstances he may or may not have come back to the classroom.”
She says several people contradict their story, “We have multiple witnesses after the investigation that show that the student walked out with the rest of the class, but the door was open and this we can verify with the teacher behind, next to who passed who looked in the classroom there was nobody in there.”
But Roxanne says she stands behind her son’s story because when she visited the school that day to take him lunch, like she does everyday, and he didn’t meet her in the office, like he usually does and he was nowhere to be found.
“He’s six, he’s not going to make this up. The teacher was not on the campus, he was inside the classroom because that’s where the fourth grader pulled him out of the classroom when he heard him crying. I do support my son 110 percent and I‘m going to stick by his story,” he says.
Roxanne says her only motivation is to make sure other parents know what happened to her special needs son so that this doesn’t happen again, and it won’t happen to her son again because she’s pulled him from the school, “I did enroll him in a new school and he meets with his new teacher tomorrow and he’s happy about where he’s going now.”