FRANKLINTON, N.C. (WNCN) – Parents are demanding answers as to whether the Franklin County School District could have done more to protect students against a former teacher’s aide convicted of assaulting a handicapped student.
“To work with a child that you’re fully aware of her medical issues, you really have it at heart,” said Jennifer Watson.
Those are the words of Jennifer Watson shortly after 61-year-old Margaret Harris was convicted of assaulting her 12-year-old daughter, Jayden Ossino, who has special needs.
“To know that someone took her, left her with bruises and permanent damage, it’s frustrating,” Watson said. “At the end of the day, it’s about her.”
Harris assaulted Jayden with a metal spoon on April 11, 2018. She was suspended and notified she would be fired by Franklin County Schools two days later.
Harris was charged with misdemeanor assault on a handicapped person on April 17 after an investigation was complete.
A report filed with the Franklinton Police Department shows that on April 27, Dr. Larry Webb from Franklin County Schools told investigators that Harris had made comments to students on a school bus about having a family member bring a “piece” on the bus due to students misbehaving, but those allegations were never proven.
“You should be able to send your kid off to school and trust teachers and staff,” said Watson.
Dr. Webb also told investigators that Harris dropped a bus off at the school bus garage, refused to drive anymore, and walked away.
The district wouldn’t comment, claiming it’s a personnel matter.
The district told me they couldn’t comment because it was a personnel matter.
“It really makes it hard for you to trust anybody with your child,” Watson said. “That’s the main reason Jayden is homebound now.”
Harris was sentenced to spend at least 10 days in jail and a year of probation. But, for parents like Watson, that’s not enough.
“No amount of jail time, nothing is going to bring back that day,” Watson said. “She wasn’t the first, and she won’t be the last unless the court system does something about it. People need to be held accountable these days and it seems to fall short.”
CBS17 did get a statement from Franklin County Schools about the April incident.
Educators say they fully cooperated with law enforcement and have a zero-tolerance policy for any employee who behaves in a way that is harmful to students.
Superintendent Rhonda Schuler also responded, saying in part: “We are committed to providing a safe and nurturing environment to each and every student in our care. This type of behavior is unacceptable.”