Atlanta Educators Videotaped Abusing Special Needs Students

Apr 24, 2014

Atlanta Public Schools superintendent Erroll Davis says the abuse of two special needs students, at the hands of educators, is disgusting and disturbing.

Alger Coleman III was arrested and charged with child cruelty and battery.
Credit Fulton County Sheriff's Office

It happened at Harper Archer Middle School.

WABE’s Rose Scott has more.

A special education teacher set-up a video recorder because she says her previous complaints were ignored.

The video shows students being slapped upside the head, pushed to the floor and one placed in a choke hold.

The teacher, that secretly hid the video recorder, is only being referred to as “Dr. J.”

That’s according to attorney, Terrance Madden, who is representing the parents of the special needs students.

“She wishes to keep her anonymity because obviously having set up the cameras she fears repercussions particularly as large as it’s gone and she wishes to be employed in the future.”

The students are reportedly unable to verbally communicate.

One of the students, according to attorney Madden, has autism.

Madden says in February, Dr. J reported the abuse to APS officials, but claims she was told there was insufficient evidence.

And that’s when Dr. J turned the video over to authorities.

This link is to the video has reported by WXIA television station.

APS Superintendent Erroll Davis says the Harper Archer Middle School principal followed proper protocol after being told of the abuse.

Davis says the district was set to press charges against one of the educators.

“The day we were preparing those charges we got the videos. The abhorrent and disgusting videos from the teacher’s lawyer which had already been given to authorities.”

On March 18th authorities arrested teacher’s assistant Alger Coleman for first degree child cruelty and battery.

Keisha Smith, a paraprofessional has not been arrested or fired.

According to APS, Smith has the right to a tribunal hearing.

Statement from Atlanta Public Schools

Atlanta Public Schools (APS) does not condone this behavior and does not tolerate the abuse of any child under any circumstances. The safety and security of our students remain a top priority.

Immediately upon notification of this incident, the individuals in the video were removed from the classroom. We can confirm that Alger Coleman, who was a teacher's aide, is no longer with the district. The other employee was a paraprofessional and is no longer in a classroom, pending a disciplinary hearing. The district is currently reviewing the situation, as well as the district's response to this incident.

Again, APS is focused on educating and protecting children. We are also cooperating with the Atlanta Police Department as they pursue criminal charges, as well as the Department of Family and Children Services (DFACS).