Angry parents attend SISD meeting to address alleged sexual assault at elementary school

The School Yard

POSTED: Friday, February 28, 2014 - 11:36pm

UPDATED: Monday, March 3, 2014 - 9:51am

A school meeting turns into a screaming match between district officials and angry parents demanding answers.

The Socorro Independent School District invited parents to a meeting at Socorro High School on Friday evening to answer any of their questions and hear their concerns about student safety at SISD schools, in light of recent allegations that a child with autism was sexually assaulted in the bathroom of H.D. Hilley Elementary School.

It began as a calm presentation.

SISD Superintendent Dr. Jose Espinoza reassured parents that the district took action right away after the sexual assault claims surfaced, by alerting the Socorro Police Department, Child Protective Services, and hiring a third-party investigator.

Dr. Espinoza said SISD also hired a permanent police officer to patrol the Hilley campus and claimed the district has surveillance cameras set up at campuses across the district.

But many parents didn't buy it and the meeting quickly turned rowdy. Parents leaped out of their seats and shouted back and forth with district officials.

"I came for the questions, for the questions that parents had. Not their review of their security. So they wasted my time for 45 minutes. Now I have to go because I do have a special needs kid and I only have so much time," said one parent.

"All they want to do is sweep everything under the carpet and that's it," said another parent.

"I'm glad people started talking," said a third parent.

Some 200 parents showed up to Friday evening's meeting and many were divided.

While many parents accused district officials of not doing enough to protect their kids, others sat quietly or left the meeting all together.

"There are too many irate parents. They're not letting the meeting go through, and I think they're slowing down the process," said one parent as she left in the middle of the meeting.

SISD was adamant that they are making progress in their investigation of the alleged sexual assault but said they couldn't give parents too many details because of privacy issues - that had parents on edge, as the alleged attacker hasn't yet been identified.

Several parents at the meeting also expressed concern over certain staff members working or volunteering with their children at SISD schools, but the district tried to reassure them that all employees must pass background checks first before working with their kids.

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Someone needs to be held accountable ASAP. Tonight's meeting was simply a place to allow steam out, so it doesn't blow! But this has been going on too often with no consequences. Shame on this district and all of the administrators.

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