A kindergarten teacher at Banyan Elementary School in Miami, Fla., is being accused of verbally bullying one of her 5-year-old students.
Kandy Escotto was shocked to hear her son call himself a “bad boy” while she was helping him with homework. When she asked why he said it, he said, “That’s what the teacher tells me when I don’t do my work.”
When her son, Aaron, started to cry before going to school, Escotto knew something was wrong. So the mother placed a recorder in Aaron’s bag.
She was hoping to obtain proof that Rosalba Suarez, a teacher for 33 years who was just named teacher of the year at the school, was bullying her son.
Escotto recorded four days of her son’s classes in October. After listening to the 32 hours of audio, she had plenty of evidence to suggest Suarez was publicly shaming her student and another boy, going so far as to call them both “losers.”
Suarez also berated the 5-year-old over not correctly learning how to “bubble” in a test and mentioned Escotto, saying that the boy’s mother was driving her “crazy.”
In the audio, after Aaron resists doing a lesson, Suarez can be heard saying: “I don’t care. Don’t do it. You think I care? Whatever your mom wants to see, honey, whatever your mom wants to see. You tell me what she wants to see – a nice job, or she wants to see a loser’s job?”
“For me to hear the things that she was saying to him… She picked him out, she singled him out, she humiliated him in front of the whole class. She talked about me in front of him,” Escotto said. “No 5-year-old should be able to go through that. That affected my family, affected him.”
Aaron has been placed in a different classroom, and his grades have improved. However, Escotto wants Suarez removed from the school entirely and has hired an attorney, Sonia Roca. In Florida, it is illegal to record someone without their consent. However, Roca argues that since the classroom is a public place, the recording is legal.
“Miami-Dade County Public Schools goes to great lengths to promote a culture of dignity and respect, not only among our students but with our employees,” spokeswoman Jackie Calzadilla told the Miami Herald. “We work diligently to ensure the well-being of every child entrusted to our care. Any action that runs contrary to the values we instill in our school community will not be tolerated. The district will conduct a thorough review of this matter and, if the allegations are substantiated, we will take any and all appropriate disciplinary actions.”
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