Alleged assault on child with autism sparks debate after release of video

Posted at 4:22 PM, May 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-25 16:22:28-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A local mother claims her 6-year-old daughter with autism was assaulted by her teacher multiple times, and video of her daughter and teacher is now being used as a key piece in the investigation.

We first introduced you to Shaunte Paul-Oliver and her Daugther Alona Tuesday. Alona has acute autism and her mother claims she came home from Dickenson Elementary with bruises on her arm multiple times.

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

Wednesday, a video surfaced from a neighbor of the school, recording an interaction between a teacher and Alona May 4 after she reportedly heard screams coming from the school playground. FOX 17 has blurred the teacher's face since she has not been charged with a crime.

"My daughter is screaming and her arm is going around my daughter's neck," Shaunte said while watching that video during an interview Thursday. "She has my daughter in what you would call a choke hold position."

Shaunte says she's been in contact with the school for weeks trying to pursue legal action. After she 'hit a wall' with the school, she reached out to FOX 17 News to share her story.

"Alona has been out of school since May 15, so it's been about two weeks now," Shaunte said.

Alona will not be returning to DIckinson Elementary, according to her mother. She is now seeking justice for her daughter through legal action.

"This is only the beginning," Shaunte said. "I want charges pressed against the teacher."

While some might look at the video and see a teacher doing her job, working with special needs, Shaunte says there's not a doubt in her mind that Alona was physically harmed.

"She's shaking my daughter! That's not restraining," said Shaunte.

After the video became public, GRPS Spokesperson John Helmholdt sent FOX 17 a written statement saying:

"We are aware of this video and it is being included in the ongoing investigation of this incident."

The teacher in question is currently on administrative leave. Meanwhile, Shaunte is not the only one making these claims. A handful of parents have contacted us saying they too have had similar situations happen to their kids. A protest at a local park will take place Friday, with all of them looking for justice for their children.