ROUND ROCK, Texas — A Round Rock ISD administrator is no longer working at a school for special education students after surveillance video showed him grabbing a then-13-year-old student and pushing him into a room.
The student claims, and video shows, that he hit his head.
"I mean, it hurt," Quintin Proctor said. "I came home and I had this lump on my head."
Proctor, now 14, is a student at GOALS Learning Center. He said he's felt a shift in how he is treated at school since the April 2022 incident. He said he wishes he didn't have to go back.
"Since then, it's been really hard for me going there," Proctor said.
Tatiana Alfano, Proctor's mother, said the learning center's Director of Special Education and Behavioral Services told her in an email in April that Proctor had to be restrained after becoming aggressive. The email, which had a detailed report attached, claimed Proctor charged at a teacher – so an administrator, identified as Jacob Thomas, stepped in to help.
"I was very inclined to believe he fell," Alfano said. "But the lump [on Proctor's head] was so big, I'm like, how does he get a lump that big just falling?"
Alfano said after seeing Proctor's head, she hired attorney Dave Bunger. Bunger confirms to the KVUE Defenders that he got a copy of surveillance footage from Round Rock ISD showing the incident involving Proctor, the teachers and Thomas. Alfano said what's seen in the video does not match what she was told from GOALS Learning Center. She said it shows a different story.
"It's very hard for me to watch," said Alfano.
The footage begins by showing Proctor in a hallway attempting to return to his classroom after he said he was removed from it. He is stopped repeatedly by two women Proctor said are teachers at GOALS Learning Center.
The two women then use a restraint called a "two-person forward" to escort Proctor into a "calm down room," which is used in certain schools for students to reset when they're feeling anxious, angry or overwhelmed. At Round Rock ISD, these rooms are called "cool-off rooms."
For a couple of minutes, the video shows Proctor standing in the cool-off room, leaning against the wall. The two women are standing at the entrance.
Later, Thomas appears at the entrance, leans against the wall and speaks to Proctor.
Proctor said during this time, he saw the women walk away and thought he was allowed to walk with them since Thomas was not fully blocking the entryway to the cool-off room. When proctor tried to exit, Proctor said Thomas reached for him, grabbed him and threw him back into the cool-off room. Video shows Proctor hit the wall and fall to the ground, before getting up.
The two women and Thomas enter the calm room as Proctor stands up, where the four appear to have a verbal exchange.
Thomas is then seen putting Proctor in a restraint on the ground in the calm room.
Alfano said the "prone" restraint was used on Proctor. In the video, Proctor is taken to the ground by Thomas, helped kept down by the two women and can be heard yelling.
The prone restraint and its use gained national attention following the death of George Floyd.
"Restraints, seclusions, putting hands on children should be the last tools we use," said Alfano. "De-escalation efforts should be used first."
Steven Aleman with Disability Rights Texas sat down with the KVUE Defenders to analyze the video. He said this is not a unique occurrence
Aleman said restraints against students are not against the law when there is imminent danger. However, Aleman said what does make this particular incident different is that a student was restrained in an area he should have been allowed to leave.
"So, this space is called a calm room. The intention is for the student to have a calm place to go to regain composure, focus," Aleman said. "School districts may call it by different terms."
Aleman said it is against the law to physically keep a student from leaving the cool-off room. Texas law does prohibit teachers from blocking the door or using force to put kids in timeout.
"A student is supposed to be free to come and go, so a teacher cannot keep a student in one of these spaces – let alone throw a student back into the space when the student wants to leave," Aleman said.
Disabilities advocates say putting children in seclusion rooms is inhumane and causes lasting trauma, though some school officials say they need the option to educate students with significant behavioral challenges.
Aleman calls this a situation of abuse.
"What the administrator does in tossing the student is totally unacceptable and totally illegal," said Aleman.
Round Rock ISD told the KVUE Defenders an investigation into the matter has been completed, but it would not share its outcome because it is a "personnel matter." The district said Thomas no longer works at GOALS Learning Center, but instead works on special projects at the district's administration building. Round Rock ISD would not say why Thomas was removed from GOALS Learning Center.
Records show the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services investigated the incident and ruled out abuse.
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) confirms that "the educator in question currently has an investigatory flag on their certificate. Since the matter remains ongoing, we cannot comment further at this time." Thomas' teaching certification is noted to say the educator is under investigation.
Alfano said she's speaking up now after feeling like her efforts to get answers or accountability for what happened have fallen flat. She said Round Rock ISD has been anything but apologetic.
Bunger told the KVUE Defenders that Round Rock ISD's attorney verbally offered Alfano, through him, $10,000 to sign a non-disclosure agreement and remove the surveillance footage from internet platforms. While Round Rock ISD disputes that claim, Alfano and Proctor say it happened, and they turned it down.
"That wasn't the point. That was an NDA where we take it and don't talk. We're just supposed to shut-up. We weren't going to do that," Proctor said. "If they did this to me, then there's countless other people that it's happened to and it's gonna happen to someone else if we don't stop it."
Proctor said he and his mom are teaming up to share their story, talk to State and local political leaders, and fight to pass the "Keeping All Students Safe Act," which protects students from seclusion and restraint.
"This is about something so much bigger now," Alfano said.
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