Parent fights for child she says was assaulted at school

Courtney Thibodeaux expresses her frustration with BISD's lack of cooperation.

June 26 was the third and final day of the Special Education hearing concerning compensation for the alleged abuse and mistreatment of 6-year-old Pietzsch-MacArthur Elementary special needs student Triniti Thibodeaux.

Thibodeaux suffers from Angelman Syndrome, a disorder that makes the young child unable to speak and causes seizures.

Among several witnesses called to testify were Alyssa Barton, a direct therapist for Thibodeaux, who said Marney Essoh, the girl’s special education teacher, not only called Thibodeaux ugly on different occasions but also hit her hand with a yardstick the teacher referred to as “Pepper.”

“I’m just ready for all of this to be over,” Courtney Thibodeaux, Trinti’s mother, said at the end of the hearing on the second day. “The whole thing is just a mess; it’s a shame really, that I can’t trust my baby with BISD.” According to Courtney, the Special Education hearing was the result of a failed mediation in April between her and the district.

“We sat down and I told them I wanted compensation for the expenses I incurred for Triniti’s care when she wasn’t able to go to class because of the abuse she had endured,” Courtney explained. “We weren’t able to come to a compromise, so here we are.”

Dorene Philpot, an attorney from Galveston who represents the Thibodeaux family, said she was pleased with statements given by witnesses and was confident about the overall outcome.

BISD Special Education Attorney Heather Rutland said cases involving children are difficult for all involved.

“The district has provided this child with free appropriate public education; sometimes parents and districts disagree about how that should be done within the law. We abide by the law. Parents always want what’s best for their children, and sometimes that’s not necessarily the same thing the law requires.”

Council agreed to have closing arguments submitted to Judge Shannon Kilgore with State Office of Administrative Hearing by Aug. 8. Judge Kilgore will render her decision on Aug. 29.

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