Students say they fear reinstated teacher who allegedly hit student with car

Students say they fear reinstated teacher who allegedly hit student with car

POSTED: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 10:14pm

UPDATED: Friday, September 6, 2013 - 4:38pm

Students spoke out about their fear Thursday of a teacher at Austin High School. The teacher was previously removed from his job after allegedly hitting a student with a car.
Documents obtained by NewsChannel 9, describe two separate events when a teacher allegedly choked one student and then hit another with his car. EPISD did not release these documents and have not verified their authenticity.

KTSM is not releasing the teacher's name, because he has not been charged with a crime. Parents and teachers claim the teacher's dismissal and reinstatement this year could answer questions as to why popular Austin High Principal Dr. John Tanner was placed on leave.

Former Austin High School student Gabriel Rodriguez describes what he calls a dangerous encounter with the teacher one day after school in 2012.

"It was the car striking me on my shoulder. He's like no believe me, if I wanted to hit you, I would've hit you and you would've known," said Rodriguez.

Dolores Tapia, a current parent at Austin High, said she is concerned about the safety of the students of Austin high school.

"I don't understand how EPISD can bring back someone who has hurt two students in the past," said Tapia.

In 2009, before the incident with Rodriguez, this teacher allegedly grabbed and choked a student by the neck, leaving obvious marks.

"Teachers are the last ones you expect the danger to come from," said Rodriguez.

A current student described the beginning of the school year so far.

"Since he’s been back on campus, apparently he's not filling up classes so counselors are forcing students to take his classes," said student Ryan Allen.

Students and parents said that's not all their worried about. At a recent rally, the Austin High community made it clear they feel a void without their leader.

As we reported, Principal Tanner was placed on leave a second time, before the school year started for reasons undisclosed by El Paso Independent School District.

But Tanner's attorney says his client is on leave pending an investigation involving the same teacher who allegedly hit Gabriel Rodriguez with his car and choked another student.

"He's accused by two employees of retaliating against them for allegedly talking to the FBI during the ongoing investigation with the district," said Tanner's Attorney Tiger Hanner.

Dr. Tanner was cleared from the ongoing investigation of the district's cheating scandal the first time he was on leave. This time around, his leave has nothing to do with the cheating scandal, according to Hanner,.

"It will clearly show that there is nothing he ever did to retaliate against anybody," said Hanner.

Hanner said the teacher may be trying to keep his job now that people are voicing their concerns.

"It's a desperate attempt to save his job. By painting himself as a whistle blower of some kind , he is trying to prevent the school district from terminating his employment based on a very serious allegation," said Hanner.

For now students, parents and even Dr.Tanner's attorney will have to wait and see what the future holds for Austin High.

"Like why are you gonna take away a principal that turned a school around miraculously, for a teacher that puts students’ lives in danger," said Rodriguez.

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