When you hear news about someone who's been accused of hurting another person, what is your automatic reaction? I, for one, tend to assume the person is guilty. When there is a tug-of-war between my head ("of course they did it... almost everyone who's accused in these situations is guilty") and my heart ("well if his mom says he couldn't do it... she probably knows him best"), my head tends to win.
Here's why I bring this up: One of the educational assistants (Person A*) I have worked with for over six years has been accused of purposely injuring one of the students in that class. The student is non-verbal and wheelchair bound. Something clearly happened to her; she had the welts to prove it.
The accusations come from another aide (Person B) who was in the room when it allegedly happened. No one else was around but those three.
Here's the rub: Person B's side of the story includes not doing anything to stop it and waiting to say what happened until a third aide noticed the welts. Also, at some point Person B took the student to the restroom on her own, as did the third aide. And Person B is known for causing problems. She was, I believe, instrumental in creating such a bad environment in another class that one of our best aides left. On the flip side, Person A has always been reliable, caring and aware.
Based on everything I've heard, I have cast my vote for Person A (as has the girl's parent). It honestly sounds to me like either Person B or the third aide injured the girl. Both of them, as well as the teacher, have clearly lied about how the classroom operates. I was not asked to give any impressions.
Person A has been removed from the classroom and was given the choice of resigning or being fired. I drafted her letter of defense. To protect her future job options, she chose to resign. I wrote out her resignation and gave her a letter of recommendation . A police report was filed, and the DA is pursuing charges. I have provided a character reference.
Here's where I get a little wimpy: I believe that what I'm doing is right, but I still have to work with the teacher and other aides. My way of making this happen has been to send Nance to their class instead of going myself. I can sometimes be too confrontational, especially when there is a question of right and wrong regarding children. As it is, mere hours before Person A asked for a character reference, I was on the phone with the teacher pointing out yet again that paperwork needs to be done a certain way. Despite my best efforts at self-control I blurted out, "When Person A was there it was always done a certain way, which is the right way. Whatever you need to do to do it like she did, that's what has to happen." Ugh. Nice. Professional, too. I am concerned about how things will go once they all go to court. Knowing that I have to work with women who are dishonest... and one of whom hurt a defenseless child... makes me a little queasy. Keeping my distance is my best defense. Nancy's not getting involved, which is her usual preference, so she can seem neutral.
Have you ever been in this kind of situation? What would you do?
*They have the same first name. Such is the lack of creativity on my part today, I have not come up with something different.