Couple Allege Cover-Up By Brentwood School District After Video Surfaces

BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A middle school teacher monitoring hallways was caught on surveillance tape allegedly manhandling a 13-year-old student. The video was posted on YouTube and on Tuesday the student’s parents were claiming a cover-up by the school district.

“As a father, seeing a son getting abused like that, and I can’t do nothing,” Noell Lopez told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan before breaking down.

Brentwood parents Noell and Lizbeth Lopez said they have every right to be emotional.

Lizbeth Lopez said in no way did her son provoke the alleged action taken against him.

“Absolutely not, the video shows it all,” she said.

One year after their son was disciplined inside his Brentwood middle school, a disturbing hallway security videotape surfaced, that, until recently, the family said they never knew existed. It seems to show a teacher aggressively grabbing the 13-year-old special education student, pushing, shoving and then choking him.

“Had to be a cover-up, because the precinct told us there was only one video,” Noell Lopez said.

When welts and scratches appeared on the teen’s neck police were called in, and, allegedly, were shown only one camera angle, which obscures physical contact.

CBS 2’s McLogan obtained the police report. The teacher defended his actions. He claimed the student was cursing on a cellphone and refused to return to class. The teacher said the student grabbed, pushed and shoved the teacher, forcing the teacher to defend himself.

But in the midst of heated school board elections, the additional video surfaced and it seems to show the teacher reprimanding the 13-year-old for using his cellphone. The student doesn’t appear to resist the teacher’s hands and fists.

“He did this in front of dozens and dozens of people. And what happened? Well the district covered up the tape that showed it. And the teacher was given a paid vacation, suspended with pay ‘til the end of the year. And now he’s back teaching students,” family attorney Kenneth Mollins said.

The district verified the authenticity of the new video.

“The district is totally aware of the situation at hand and has secured an outside investigation firm to conduct an independent investigation. We have a policy which strictly forbids corporal punishment,” district spokesperson Felix Adeyeye said.

The teacher was suspended with pay and is back teaching students. Suffolk County police say they investigated at the time and determined that no crime was committed.

Suffolk police sent McLogan a statement at 4:20 p.m. Tuesday which said that they investigated and that no further action was anticipated.

Lizbeth Lopez said it was difficult to go public with the complaints because she is employed by the Brentwood School District as a school bus aide.

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