1st-graders allege substitute teacher assault

One of two first-graders who say a substitute teacher pushed them. (May 20, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids police are investigating claims that a substitute teacher assaulted two first-grade students at River City Scholars elementary school.

Police say the incident was reported on May 12 and allegedly happened sometime in the morning hours. The substitute teacher had been hired from the Professional Education Services Group (PESG).

The two students, a 6-year-old boy and a girl, claim that the teacher pushed them to get them to sit down and when they refused to put their heads down as he asked, he forced them down.

Police say the students were reportedly misbehaving in class.

“When I asked him what happened, he told me that the teacher twisted his arm and banged his head up against the table because he was talking,” Stacey Heaston, the grandfather of the male alleged victim, told 24 Hour News 8. “I can’t believe this happened to my grandson… I’m hurt behind it.”

National Heritage Academies, a charter school company, runs River City Scholars. A company representative declined to provide details about what happened but confirmed that the district asked the provider not to send that particular substitute to their schools again.

The school system is cooperating with police investigators.

Heaston says he’s confident that his grandson is telling the truth.

“I asked him a million times and he keeps telling me the same horror story over and over again,” Heaston said. “He said ‘Poppy, I’m scared to go to the art class.’ I don’t know what to say about that. That’s crazy.”

Police investigators visited the home of Heaston’s grandson Tuesday evening and told family members that they had also been in touch with the family of the female victim, Heaston said.

A human resources representative for PESG declined to discuss the incident, calling it a “personnel matter.” The representative would not disclose whether the substitute was being placed in other classrooms.

Authorities have not released the substitute teacher’s name and the alleged victim’s family that spoke with 24 Hour News 8 says the young boy does not recall the teacher’s name.

“This guy shouldn’t be back at that school and he shouldn’t be back at any school,” Heaston said. “I want to make sure that he never teaches again — not in Grand Rapids, not anywhere. This guy shouldn’t be a teacher. He needs to be locked up.”

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