Texas parents are demanding answers after ongoing concerns hit their “peak” when a six-year-old girl was allegedly forced to perform a sex act in her classroom while the teacher was present.
South Elementary School, part of the Plainview Independent School District (PISD) situated between Lubbock and Amarillo, has been the site of ongoing parent protests following a worsening situation. Holding signs outside the administrative office Monday that read, “We want our kids to be safe,” and “Be their voice,” parents told the Plainview Herald about the alleged April 19 incident.
“A 6-year-old was exposed to things that even adults would have a hard time overcoming,” one parent told the outlet. “This is trauma at its worst, and it is a trickle-down effect because it affects everyone around them.”
Speaking with KCBD, Heather Gonzales, an older cousin of the victim, detailed how one of the girl’s peers had allegedly exposed his genitals to the victim on the school lunch line and had also forced her under a desk to perform a sex act on him while another student recorded the assault on a password-protected, district-issued iPad.
“She said she was hitting him with the poetry book,” Gonzales explained before noting it continued until they let her go.
The victim’s cousin decried being stonewalled by officials and recounted her interactions seeking answers, “Everything was ‘no comment, I cannot tell you, no comment.’ So, you mean to tell me abuse has been happening for a week and a half and these kids are still at the same desk? My cousin is still at a desk with all boys, having to see her abusers every day?”
Responding to allegations over the handling of the incident, PISD Superintendent H.T. Sánchez spoke with KCBD and detailed that the state investigator from Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) “had asked that we hold confidentiality because he wanted to be sure that he was able to get the full story from each of the students, the minors, that were involved. All of the steps that we’re required to take, we took.”
This included moving the accused students to a separate classroom and placing the teacher on paid administrative leave.
Reports indicated that the teacher had been in the classroom at the time of the assault and had been wearing headphones while working with other students. But, protesters speaking with the Herald said the alleged incident was merely the latest in a growing list of abuses happening at the school that have gone unaddressed.
“There have been multiple moms coming out about stuff that has been happening all year and nothing is being done about it,” one parent said. “It’s hit its peak and that’s why we’re here today, to get answers.”
Another explained, “My daughter comes home with bruises and rashes if she doesn’t participate in these little boys’ sick games. They will punch her, give her Indian burns, they’ll call her names and cuss at her.”
A parent identified as Garcia added, “You can’t have your kids in a classroom like that. You’re worried about the education they are receiving and what they are being exposed to. A lot of parents have parental controls on what their kid is able to watch and see at this age, and we do all of that just for them to go to school and be exposed to stuff they should’ve never seen.”
The district issued a statement on the incident that read in part, they “have visited with the parents/guardians of families involved in a recent incident at South Elementary that is under Child Protective Services and law enforcement investigation. [We] appreciate their willingness to sit down, share their perspectives, express their concerns, and seek a good outcome for their children.”
The device used to record the incident remained in law enforcement custody and the next school board meeting is scheduled for May 18 where Sánchez’s contract is included on the agenda.