When Michelle Young brought her 8-year-old son home from school in Cahokia, he was complaining that his left side was hurting. When she asked why, he told his mother a teacher’s aide had hit him.
Young’s son, Christopher Sharp, is in a third-grade behavioral class at Penniman School.
On Aug. 25, Christopher told his mother that he was walking from one building to another after eating breakfast that morning when he ran into the bathroom. The teacher’s aide for his class chased after him into the bathroom, turned off the light and hit him open-handed on his left side by his hip.
It was Christopher’s 8th birthday.
“We had a cake and the house was decorated. I expected him to come in as his usual joyful self and instead he comes in with tears in his eyes,” Young said. “He was scared to go to school.”
Christopher said the teacher’s aide told him if he told anyone about it, he would “get more of the same,” Young said.
When Young heard her son’s story, she asked him to raise his shirt. She said she saw a red mark and a bruise forming on his left side.
Young said she tried to get in touch with someone from Penniman School but no one was there. Instead, she turned to the Department of Children and Family Services and made a report the next day with an agent, who went to the house. She advised Young to take Christopher to the emergency room and call the police.
Young took her son to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, where Christopher was treated for a hip abrasion, and called Cahokia Police.
According to a police report, Christopher told the DCFS agent that at the end of the day as he was getting on the bus, the aide approached Christopher and told him if he didn’t tell anyone about what had happened, he would buy him a gift when he returned to school.
Cahokia police officer Shawn Hunt went to Young’s home Aug. 28, according to the police report. Hunt took photos of the child’s injury, describing it as a “red-in-color-bruise approximately 2 inches in length.” Young signed a Children’s Hospital medical release form and gave Hunt documents from Cardinal Glennon.
Young said no one from the school district has reached out to her about the matter except for the school’s principal, who called her Aug. 30. Since then, she said, she has heard nothing.
“It’s almost two weeks after and I still don’t have an answer of what’s going to happen,” Young said. “I’ve had to track them down and tell the story to a dozen people and still, no one calls me back.”
Young said she has to send her son to Penniman because it is the only elementary school near her with a behavioral class, which Christopher needs due to his attention-deficit disorder.
“I don’t want to keep my kids in a place like this. How can I send my kid to a school where they don’t even feel safe?” Young said. “I have no faith in the Cahokia school district.”
Christopher has since missed several days of school because he’s afraid the teacher’s aide will be there, Young said.
Cahokia school district Superintendent Art Ryan said the teacher’s aide was placed on administrative leave until the police investigation is completed. The school is waiting for the police investigation’s determination to decide a course of action, Ryan said.
“The issue is under investigation by outside agencies other than the school,” Ryan said. “In these situations, especially with something this major, if the police say they’ll look into it, whatever they come up with, we will go by. If they determine nothing was going on, we’ll go from there.”