MIAMI (CBSMiami) – There is new information on a troubling story out of a South Florida private school.
CBS4 News has learned the student who claims he was the victim of a hazing at the prestigious Belen Preparatory School is the son of a Miami-Dade police officer.
The historic, award-winning school remains short an English teacher with Cristina Ramirez, a veteran of more than two decades, on leave as police investigate the alleged incident.
A 16-year-old high school student says he was abused in Ramirez’s class on Monday, February 5th, after he failed to bring in a bottled water donation for the annual school festival.
A transcript of a police incident report obtained by CBS4 News, and a police source with direct knowledge of the case, say the alleged victim told investigators that Ramirez directed two other students to tie him to a chair with caution tape, similar to police crime scene tape, and for students to pelt him with “non-lethal” objects.
The report says the boy was hit with paper balls and shoes that were thrown at him.
The police source said pencils were among the projectiles, as well.
According to the report, obtained exclusively by CBS4 News, the student claims the tape, that he says he was bound with hand and foot, was provided by the teacher.
The student admits uttering a crude vulgarity to the teacher and was ordered to serve a one-day suspension for that.
The police source said that suspension was lifted after the alleged hazing was reported.
Ramirez’s lawyer has flatly denied all of the allegations.
Attorney Giorgio Ramirez, who is also the teacher’s brother, told CBS4 early on that “the student making these allegations did issue an apology to my client, in writing, for his foul language.”
“My client did not participate in, or direct, or witness any hazing of this student,” the attorney said.
The lawyer provided CBS4 with a copy of the student’s apology where the teen says “I would never mean to disrespect anyone in such a way.”
The apology note makes no mention of any hazing incident, which allegedly preceded the vulgar outburst.
Ramirez, hugely popular with a generation of students, is garnering huge support.
An online petition titled “Bring Back Mrs. Ramirez” had drawn nearly 5,000 signatures by midday Tuesday.
Comments on the site were overwhelmingly supportive of the teacher.
“This is an injustice of the highest order. Ms. Ramirez is one of the best educators to ever walk the halls of Belen,” read one entry.
Miami-Dade Police say they are handling the Belen complaint as they would any other, and that the student’s father being one of their own has not influenced their investigation.
“We investigate our officers and officers involved in some way in numerous cases, routinely,” said Det. Robin Pinkard, a department spokesperson.
The allegations, if proved true, a department source said would be serious.
The state attorney’s office, a department spokesperson said, would make a final decision on what charge or charges, if any, might be brought and against whom in the alleged Belen incident.