Mother: Child with autism came home from GRPS school bruised

Posted at 4:51 PM, May 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-23 18:09:49-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A mother was shocked to find her 6-year-old daughter come home from a Grand Rapids Public School with bruises on her arms. She is now pressing charges.

"The school should be the safest place to send our children," said Shaunte Paul-Oliver, who reported the incident a week ago. "Alona came home with bruises underneath her arms like someone cuffed her arm and grabbed it to the point where black and purple bruises were on her arm."

School officials are now working with local police trying to figure out what led up to an alleged assault inside Dickinson Elementary, located at Dickinson SE. However, Paul-Oliver says this isn't the first time this has happened.

"The first time it happened the skin was broken and she was bleeding," Paul-Oliver said.

Alona has autism and is non-verbal. Her mother says it's clear what happened to her daughter inside the elementary school.

"After she was assaulted by her teacher, I removed Alona from her classroom and the setting in general," Paul-Oliver said.

As her mother pursues legal charges, school officials are doing what they can to find a solution.

"I think we want to assure our students and parents that we have high expectations for our teaching staff," said John Helmholdt, the Executive Director of Communications and External Affairs for the school. "We expect them to love and nurture our students, and anything like this where there's an allegation like this, we're going to take it very seriously."

Helmholdt says the unnamed teacher could be fired for her actions. Both the school and Grand Rapids Police are conducting their own investigations as the child's mother searches for a new school for her daughter.

"The teacher was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation," Helmholdt said. "We're following it by the book, protocol. The safety and well-being of that child is priority one for our district."

We reached out to Grand Rapids Police for a comment on the investigation, but we have not heard back.