Child abuse charges in the works for BISD educator
By Jennifer Johnson
Officers from the Beaumont Independent School District Police Department are putting the finishing touches on a case alleging felony child abuse by a middle school educator perpetrated against a 12-year-old boy he was paid to mentor. An investigation into the alleged abuse was sparked Friday, Oct. 29, when, according to the complaining victim, the youth was punched multiple times in the face and chest by BISD Smith Middle School math tutor Michael Fisher. The accuser’s mother, Adrianne Wells, said she wanted to see the man who assaulted her child face justice.
“If it was you or me who punched a child in the face and flung him across a room in front of witnesses, you can bet we’d be in jail by now,” she said through the tears of a mother who is reeling with grief in the knowledge that her child has had to endure not only a physical attack, but also an assault to his innocence that has left the child changed in more ways than one. To date, no arrests have been made in the assault on 12-year-old Reginald Wells, who suffered multiple injuries and has been out of school since the assault occurred. “I can’t understand why (Fisher) wasn’t arrested on the spot instead of just sent on his merry little way,” she said.
Wells has other questions about how it came to be that her child was beaten up by a paid employee while in the care of the local school district, questions such as who is Fisher, why is he on the permanent payroll as an educator at BISD even though he had no teaching certification, and “why was the school principal more worried about keeping things quiet than he was about doing the right thing by my son?”
As she gets some insight into the things that are puzzling her while at the same time coping with a parent’s nightmare, Wells tries to remain strong for the sake of her child.
“The ear he complains about is the ear he slid across the floor on,” Wells said about her son’s injury. The youth is roughly 80 pounds, less than 5-feet tall. “He was given pain medication; he was injured on his lip, his ear, and he had deep tissue bruising and stuff. They did a CAT scan, and X-rayed to find skeletal bruising. …
“He’s just an average kid, he wouldn’t hurt a fly. I’m his mother and I have never put my hands on him like that. I’m hurt for him — this has been so hard on him, and he doesn’t deserve any of it.”
The school day was almost over Oct. 29 when a chance encounter and brief conversation with a trusted teacher ended in a brutal assault against 12-year-old Reginald Wells, the youth told The Examiner.
“I told him I did good on my math test, and I thanked him for helping me with it,” Reginald repeated from his conversation with 24-year-old Fisher. “Then he asked me about football, and I said something he didn’t like about his (favorite football) team. It was a joke; he flicked my (school identification) badge, and I flicked his badge. Then he hit just me in my shoulder. I just looked at him; I didn’t know what to do. He hit me again, then uppercut punched me in the face.”
Reginald said he briefly lost consciousness, the last thing he remembered before blacking out was sliding across the floor.
“I knew what was going on, but I could not see or move,” he said. “I woke up and they took me to the nurse’s office.
“I was confused.”
The youth remained in the nurse’s office with his assailant and another teacher who witnessed the assault.
“He said he was sorry and he didn’t mean to do that – he just snapped,” Reginald said. “He stayed in there until the principal came to get me and talk to me.
“I wrote my witness statement and then I went to sleep.”
Reginald’s mom said she received a phone call from the school while she was at work.
“I was told there was a ‘situation’ at my son’s school and I needed to come down (to the campus),” she said. “They said they couldn’t tell me anything over the phone. I was scared, worrying that someone might have jumped him or something – he is small for his age, and he’s a meek kid. He’d never been in any trouble, so my mind was racing as to what it could be that I needed to get there.”
Wells got to the school in minutes. Fisher had since taken leave from the campus, but BISD police still hadn’t made it to the scene, she said.
“They called the police after I came down and said, ‘OF COURSE I want to press charges.’ The principal actually said to me that this teacher’s career was over, did I really want to pursue it any further. Can you believe that? My child’s rights had been violated, he had been punched in his head by a grown man, and they’re worrying about this guy’s career? I’ve lost a lot of respect for the people over there behind all of this.”
Hints of trouble
Michael Fisher, 24, didn’t have much of a career before his stint at BISD. According to sources at Smith Middle School, Fisher has been at the campus for more than a year, which coincides with his graduation from Lamar University in May 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Communication. Fisher’s last day at Smith Middle School was the day of young Reginald Wells’ assault. Despite being in Beaumont through college and beyond, Fisher still lists his home address as his mother’s residence in Houston. He could not be reached for a comment on this article.
Fisher did leave clues to his demeanor on the World Wide Web, though. In videos shot and posted online while at Lamar, Fisher can be seen exhibiting a volatile and hostile disposition, and in one Web posting Fisher goes on an expletive-laced tirade that ended in the mock execution of a rival’s stuffed animal via gunshot to the back of the head. The uncensored video of Fisher as a teacher in training can be viewed at tinyurl.com/FisherBISD, but be warned that the content is graphic and not suitable for all audiences.
“This is how we do it around here,” Fisher tells video watchers in a brief interlude not laced with obscenities. “It’s dirty. It’s raw. It’s rough in these streets.”
On the loose
Jefferson County Assistant District Attorney Ramon Rodriguez said if and when the DA’s office accepts a case file from BISD’s police department asking for Fisher’s prosecution, the course of action would be to bring the matter before a grand jury before issuing an arrest warrant. According to Rodriguez, grand juries are used in Texas for felony allegations.
Rodriguez said that he could not comment on any specifics of the DA’s involvement regarding Fisher’s pending prosecution, but did acknowledge that his office is aware of an investigation into Fisher punching a child, causing injury.
“It is a case that is still pending, still under investigation,” he said. “I cannot make a comment while it’s still going on — and it would be improper to comment at this time.”
BISD Police Department investigator Sgt. Danny Moore said his case was wrapped up and submitted to the District Attorney’s office before the Thanksgiving holiday, but he was later informed that the case file needed revision.
“I filed it with the DA’s office, but they want the statements typed,” Moore said, adding that he has not yet secured a revised case filing to submit to the DA. “I sent it over but it got sent back asking that we type up the statements — they don’t like handwritten statements.”
Moore said he is now trying to re-interview all of the witnesses to the assault, making sure to get the statements typed and signed.
“I left word for those witnesses to come see me — three or four still have to come.
“Basically, it’s still an active investigation, but I just have to tie up some loose ends and then the prosecutors will do what they’re going to do on their end.”
Mom Adrianne Wells is of the opinion that too little is being done — and too late, for that matter.
“BISD is just screwed up. Somebody should’ve been arrested,” she said. “This weighs heavy on my heart. I have no faith in BISD, at least not anymore. I just want them to do what’s right for my kids. We’re not the Cosby family, but we have good kids.”
Wells said her son is now a shell of his former self.
“He’s usually so jolly, but now he’s just sad and hurt,” she said. “He hears stuff from other students about how they’re mad because he got the ‘cool’ teacher fired. He’s been labeled a ‘snitch,’ like he did something wrong by this grown man beating him up at school.
“This has really changed his life. He’s embarrassed, and he’s hurt on the inside and the outside.”
Reginald still kept a brave face while recounting his story for the newspaper.
“My ear and my shoulder hurts a little bit now and then, but not all the time anymore,” he said this past week. And while he may be looking forward to getting back to classes, he is in no hurry to go back to the campus where he suffered a traumatic assault just before Halloween.
“I still talk to some of my friends, but I don’t want to go back there,” he said, adding that when he is cleared to return to school, he hopes to be transferred to an alternate campus.