Mesa teacher under investigation for injuring student

MESA, AZ - A Valley Kindergarten teacher is now under investigation by Mesa police and the school district after administrators received reports of possible abuse inside the classroom.

The allegations involve a 5-year-old boy in a classroom for students with autism.

The mother of Doroteo Castro said her son was placed in the class due to delayed speech. She was at work on September 5th, when she received a very unexpected visit from a Mesa police detective and four social workers who wanted to know if she had noticed any bruises on her son.

The detective informed her that they had received reports that her child's teacher may have been very rough with him. The allegations included hitting, pulling, and pushing the child. The mother said the next day when she showed up to volunteer in her child's class, a teacher's aide informed her that she had witnessed the teacher throwing the boy across the room.

Maria Beltran told police she had seen some bruises on her child's arm, but thought they came from him playing roughly with his siblings. She had also noticed a scab on his knee, but again thought he might have just fallen while playing. Now she was second guessing all of those injuries.

"You are concerned as a parent. You think you leave your kids safe at school but they are not," Beltran said. "You don't know who they're around. You're expecting in an autism class that they would have the training."

She said the district had offered to move her child to another school and provide transportation but she did not want that, as she didn't think their family should be punished for something they did not do.

Beltran said that she had wondered why her child had been making such a big fuss about going to school in the mornings. She now understands the reason.

"He cries, he throws fits, he tells us he is scared, if we can go with him. It is hard. I work all day so it's hard sending him and knowing that I can't take him in," said Beltran.

Beltran said she wished she could speak to the teacher directly.

"I would ask her why? What is causing her to pick a profession where she is not capable of doing a job? What can a child have done that is so bad that you would want to hurt them? I am not going to understand that. Why?" questioned Beltran.

District officials said the teacher is certified and is now facing a police and school administration investigation.

As part of a district initiative, all school staff will also be receiving ongoing professional development in social and emotional learning to ensure that students are academically and behaviorally successful, said a Mesa public schools spokeswoman.

The teacher has been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of this investigation.

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