Two mothers blow the whistle on alleged abuse at capital area schools

Two mothers blow the whistle on alleged abuse at capital area schools
Denisha Harmason (left) and Terr Patterson (right) both claim their children have been abused at two different schools in the Baton Rouge area

(WAFB) - Two mothers are coming forward with allegations that their kids were each abused at a place where they thought they would be safe.

"I don't want her to return there because if you allow this to happen to her then you'll allow it again," said Donisha Harmason.

Harmason claims her teenage daughter was attacked by a resource officer at the Iberville Alternative Positive Program after she refused to follow a teacher’s request to move seats.

“He walked up to her, he placed his hands behind her neck, and started choking her out the seat and threw her on the floor and pulled her hair,” said Harmason.

Mothers comes forward with abuse allegations at various Baton Rouge area schools

The mother says her daughter was diagnosed with ADHD six years ago and does sometimes have issues with behavior, but she believes the officer went too far.

“I’m her mother. I don’t handle her that way, you know. He had no right to put his hands on her and abuse her that way,” said Harmason.

Hamason claims the only way she found out about the incident was because her daughter called her. The mother alleges the school never said anything.

“No one told me anything,” said Harmason. “They just left it alone and it’s like the closed the door on it.”

(Source: WAFB)

WAFB’s Scottie Hunter reached out to the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office about the complaints. Sheriff Brett Stassi said their investigation did not reveal any wrongdoing.

“We investigated the matter along with the school board and determined that there was no wrongdoing in the case. Our officer used the least amount of force necessary to resolve the situation,” the statement reads.

In a separate complaint, Terr Patterson claims her 3-year-old son was wedged inside a makeshift cubby hole. She alleges two teachers at the Louisiana School for the Deaf in Baton Rouge trapped him behind a bookshelf during nap time. Her child is deaf and mute and since the alleged incident, Patterson claims he has been locked in an endless cycle of suffering.

"He doesn't sleep by himself anymore and he will only sleep with me,” she said. “His behavior has really gotten worse."

Patterson claims she only found out about the incident after she popped in to check him out of school.

“When I walked in the classroom, the teacher pulled back a bookcase and my child was behind the bookcase asleep,” said Patterson.

In a statement, the principal at the School for the Deaf, Ryan Gollner, acknowledged the situation and the investigation that followed.

“The Louisiana School for the Deaf is committed to the health and safety of all students. Last month, we were notified of alleged classroom misconduct. Staff potentially involved were placed on paid leave while the school’s leadership gathered facts about the situation. Upon their return, corrective action plans were put into place,” the statement reads.

Attorney Kwame Asante is representing the two women, but says they have not filed a lawsuit at this time.

"Our goal is to make sure that classrooms are being monitored so that these types of situations don't go unchecked," Asante said.

Asante tells WAFB they are weighing their legal options, but says they are hopeful they will be able to work with each of the schools to get a clearer picture of exactly what happened in each of the incidents.

“That’s our concern,” said Asante.

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