Texas school district reopens classes amid threats after claims child sexual assault was filmed in classroom

1 juvenile in custody for making 'terroristic threats'

A child sits near a box of crayons.
A child sits near a box of crayons. | Unsplash/Aaron Burden

A Texas school district resumed classes Wednesday following two days of cancelations after threats were made in response to media reports of an investigation into why parents were not informed about the sexual abuse of a first-grade student in an elementary school classroom. 

According to initial reports and claims made by a cousin of the first-grade student, a male student exposed himself to the girl in the cafeteria lunch line. But prior to that incident, a boy had filmed her on a school iPad engaging in a sexual act with another male student under a desk while the teacher was present in the classroom. 

"The incident was discovered when an IT technician found a video recording" of the April 19 incident on the school iPad, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal first reported on May 1.

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Heather Gonzales, a cousin of the young girl at the center of the case, said her family and other parents should have been informed about the incident, and the girl shouldn't be seated near the boys who participated in the alleged assault. 

Following national outrage, school officials decided last Friday to cancel classes at South Elementary School on Monday but expanded the school closure districtwide and through Tuesday, giving state agencies time to "assess the containment and continued viability of threats of violence made state-wide and nationally against South Elementary and PISD educators."

One juvenile male student was taken into police custody Wednesday morning for making "terroristic threats," according to the Plainview Herald, which reported that the Plainview ISD Police Department investigated after being made aware of threats on Tuesday.

A statement on Plainview ISD's website said classes resumed Wednesday after authorities found threats "not to be liable."

"Plainview ISD has been working with law enforcement agencies throughout the night and they have determined the threat to not be liable. This was a general threat throughout the Southwestern United States and authorities will continue with their investigation to find the origin. Plainview ISD will continue with its safety measures in place throughout the week and the rest of the school year. Plainview ISD will resume with classes on May 10."

The district also cited concerns about the overall threat of violence after a mass shooting at a shopping mall north of Dallas, Texas.

Plainview ISD also claimed that the extra precautions were necessary due to "misinformation regarding a matter under investigation," according to the Avalanche-Journal. 

The Plainview ISD did not immediately respond to The Christian Post’s request for comment.

An email sent to families on Monday afternoon said the FBI is also involved in investigating the April 19 incident at South Elementary, according to the Avalanche-Journal. 

Last month, a report surfaced that a 6-year-old girl had been sexually assaulted in a classroom at South Elementary and failed to inform the child's parents. This led to protests outside of the district's administrative offices on May 1, with the family of the young child organizing a demonstration on May 5. Gonzales, the young girl's cousin, filmed the protest. 

According to Gonzales, the school was not forthcoming with information about the assault. 

“Everything was ‘no comment. I cannot tell you. No comment,’” Gonzales told NBC News' Lubbock affiliate KCBD. “So, you mean to tell me abuse has been happening for a week and a half and these kids are still at the same desk? My cousin is still at a desk with all boys, having to see her abusers every day?”

District Superintendent H.T. Sanchez defended the school’s response, stating that a report was made and CPS was contacted after the content was found on the iPad. The reason for the lack of transparency, according to Sanchez, was that a state investigator had started working with law enforcement on the case. 

“He had asked that we hold confidentiality because he wanted to be sure that he was able to get the full story from each of the students, the minors, that were involved,” Sanchez said, as reported by KCBD. “All of the steps that we’re required to take, we took.” 

The teacher who was overseeing the classroom when the alleged assault took place has been placed on administrative leave. 

The superintendent said he hopes the district can work with parents to find a solution and help the young people heal. Gonzales, however, believes that the district should be more transparent with other parents and take further steps to ensure the safety of students. 

“Are you letting these other parents know their kids could possibly be a victim next?” Gonzales said. “I feel like, as a parent, you should know.”

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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