An autistic 8-year-old boy is facing battery charges after his special education teacher filed a police report alleging that he punched her in the face.
The child’s mother, Maria Mckay, said she had no idea charges had been filed against her son until she got a call from a juvenile detention officer.
“I was not made aware that a police report had been filed against D.J.,” Mckay told New Mexico station KRQE. “[It was] very shocking. I definitely was not prepared for a missed phone call from juvenile probation [officer] that my 8-year-old autistic child had failed to appear for a scheduled meeting. I called back and assured him there was a mistake.”
It was no mistake, however.
According to the police report, the 2nd-grader punched his special education teacher in the face, hitting her hard enough to leave a bruise on her nose. D.J. was reportedly angered by his teacher taking an iPad away from him.
School officials at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary in Rio Rancho confirmed the March incident in a statement, saying, “We can’t speak to student or personnel matters, but we can say that the school did not initiate the police report.”
“In addition, we cannot prevent a staff member from personally filing a report,” it added. “That is his or her right.”
While Mckay acknowledged her son’s actions were not right, she accused the teacher of yelling at him and snatching the iPad out of his hands, triggering him. She said she feels the teacher could’ve handled the situation a little better.
“When he is in an environment that’s really loud, he starts wailing hands and he has hit in the past,” Mckay told KRQE. “We’ve talked about it’s not okay to hit people and we need to come up with ways to better communicate with each other, because hitting is not okay. He does understand that after the fact, but he doesn’t understand that in that situation.”
D.J.’s suspension has since ended, but McKay hasn’t allowed her son to return to school just yet, saying “I just felt this is not an environment that my son should return to.” She said D.J. will likely go back once he is transferred out of that special education teacher’s classes. He’s still banned from the school’s after-school program, however, after a report showed he hit another teacher there and tried to hit a classmate.
The 8-year-old is scheduled to appear in juvenile probation for an appointment next week.
“He is absolutely terrified,” said McKay.