Saturday, April 17, 2010
The principal of Houma’s School for Exceptional Children has resigned amid the allegations.
HOUMA — The former principal of a school for mentally and physically disabled children faces a battery charge in connection with allegations that she beat a severely autistic 11-year-old child.
Sophia Seymore, 42, of Gibson, was issued a misdemeanor summons Friday for battery to the infirm after being questioned by Houma City Police detectives in the presence of an attorney.
Lt. Jude McElroy, a police spokesman, said the charge was lodged after consultation with the Terrebonne Parish District Attorney’s Office.
Seymore resigned Wednesday from her post at the Terrebonne Parish School for Exceptional Children. Neither police nor Terrebonne schools Superintendent Philip Martin would provide details of the alleged incident.
Christopher St. Martin, a Houma attorney, issued a statement confirming that his firm is representing the child and his parents “due to concerns that their child has been abused while under the school’s supervision.”
St. Martin said the child’s parents received an anonymous letter informing them that “the school’s principal had been physically and mentally abusive toward the severely autistic 11-year-old.”
The mother went to the Terrebonne Parish School Board and the Houma Police Department to make formal complaints, prompting investigations by both.
A School Board representative notified the parents, St. Martin said, that sufficient evidence was found to demand the principal resign or be terminated.
St. Martin said police told the parents that witnesses “indicated the principal put the child on the ground, got on the child’s back and repeatedly slammed his head onto a concrete floor.”
Someone at Lathrop Elementary School in Lathrop, CA dropped the ball in a huge way here.
Lathrop mom to school: Why was autistic daughter found in traffic?
Her mother Cristina Braun said she showed up to pick up her daughter Wednesday and was surprised to find her gone.
"I asked the teacher, 'Where's Isabella?' She threw up her arms and said she didn't know," Braun said.
Braun frantically searched the campus for several minutes until she saw Isabella standing in the middle of a busy street along side the school with cars whizzing by.