SUNRISE (CBS4) – A Broward County Elementary School teacher is out of the classroom and under investigation and at least two parents of the children he taught are angry about the way they learned of the investigation.
The Broward County School District confirmed to CBS 4 News that the teacher — who we are not naming because he only faces an allegation at this point — was removed from the classroom on December 9 after an allegation of inappropriate behavior was made.
However, it wasn’t until Wednesday that parents of the students in his class received a letter asking parents to allow their children to be questioned by a state investigator.
Natalie Ortiz said she was shocked to receive the letter from her son Wednesday afternoon.
“I immediately freaked out,” she told CBS 4’s Carey Codd. “They don’t tell you what’s going on so you automatically think the worst.”
Ortiz called her son’s school — Sandpiper Elementary in Sunrise.
“All I got was closed doors,” she said. “Everybody shut me up.”
The letter informs parents that a representative from the Florida Department of Education will be on the Sandpiper campus next week. The letter asks whether parents will allow their children to be interviewed.
Ortiz has an answer.
“I will not allow my son to be interviewed on campus and I will not allow my son to be interviewed without me present,” she said.
Ortiz said the school could not guarantee her that she could be present for an interview so she’s decided to keep her son home from Sandpiper until she gets some answers. Another parent – who did not want to be identified — told CBS 4 News they plan to do the same thing.
The school district has opened a parallel investigation into the teacher.
Ortiz says she is angry at the lack of answers and information, despite her many questions to school officials.
“If (school officials) were worried about the well-being of the children they would sit down with all of us parents from the classroom and explain to us overall — they don’t have to give us details — what the situation is and let us make an educated decision on whether we would allow (the interviews) to happen or not,” she said.
School district spokesperson Nadine Drew said she understands parents’ concerns but “not a lot can be said” about ongoing investigations.
Drew said that in sensitive cases like these, parents “have to allow the process to work through” and trust that the district is acting “in the best interests of the students.”
But the bottom line for Ortiz and the other parent is they don’t trust school officials enough to allow their children to remain in the school.
“I don’t want him to be interrogated at any give time, pulled out of class at any given moment to be interrogated by someone he doesn’t even know,” she said.
CBS 4 News tried to speak with the teacher but he declined. The school district said he has been administratively reassigned while the investigation continues.