Kandy Escotto said her 5-year-old son didn’t want to do his homework. His grades were bad. And he cried when it was time to go to school. She said his behavior changed last fall and suspected the award-winning teacher was the cause, according to the Miami Herald.
Escotto said she told school officials multiple times that her son complained about how kindergarten teacher Rosalba G. Suarez mistreated him, once calling him “bad boy” when he didn’t do his work. Administrators at Banyan Elementary School said nothing could be done without proof, Escotto’s attorney, Raphael Lopez, told The Washington Post. That’s when Escotto placed a recording device in her son’s backpack, according to ABC affiliate Local10.
Over the span of four days, the recordings allegedly captured the teacher berating Aaron in front of his classmates, once telling another boy that “Aaron y tu loser.”
“Raise your hand if you know how to bubble. . . Aaron doesn’t know,” Suarez allegedly said, according to a recording transcript from Escotto’s attorney.
She also criticized the child’s mother.
“I feel sorry for your mom,” Suarez said. “I really do. She is a little lost.”
Escotto told Miami Herald that the teacher singled out her son and humiliated him in front of the class.
“No 5-year-old should be able to go through that. That affected my family, affected him,” she said.
Daisy Gonzalez-Diego, a spokeswoman for Miami-Dade County Public Schools, told The Post that the schools district was first made aware of the recordings last week when it was published by local media and has opened an investigation into the incident.
“Miami-Dade County Public Schools goes to great lengths to promote a culture of dignity and respect, not only among our students but with our employees,” the school said in a statement. “We work diligently to ensure the well-being of every child entrusted to our care. Any action that runs contrary to the values we instill in our school community will not be tolerated.”
Gonzalez-Diego added that Suarez has not received a complaint during her 33-year tenure, and is “very highly regarded by teachers, parents and peers” and was named a “teacher of the year” by the school this year.
Florida is a two-party consent state — both parties need to know they are being recorded. But Lopez said this statute is void when a person does not have a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” A public school classroom, Lopez argues, is not a space where one can reasonably expect privacy.
Escotto wants the teacher to resign because of how she might treat other students, Lopez said.
Suarez is still employed by the elementary school and could not be immediately reached for comment.
At Escotto’s request, Aaron was transferred to another classroom in January.
“I didn’t want him to keep suffering,” she told Miami Herald. “He went from having F’s to having excellent grades.”