ORLANDO, Fla — Allegations of child abuse have surfaced in a lawsuit against a private school in Orlando.
The principal at Changing Lives Academy said he was suspended and eventually fired because he tried to notify the Department of Children and Families when a parent reported their son was abused by a teacher.
An autistic 4-year-old student can be seen banging on his desk before a teacher shows up and appears to grab his hair.
The student had knocked an item off his desk minutes earlier, and the teacher appeared to nudge his head.
Attorney Richard Celler represents the former principal who conducted the internal investigation.
“He insisted that it be reported, and for whatever reason, he was met with opposition and ultimately his insistence led to his termination,” said Celler.
About 100 students are enrolled in the Christian-based private school, founded in 2014.
School officials they would not talk specifically about the allegations.
“We want to wait for our legal representation to go ahead and guide us down that path. But most importantly, I will say, like I said earlier, it’s not true, it's false,” said Natalia Barkley. “This individual was not let go based off of those accusations. He was let go based on other things and those are things we won't talk about at this moment.”
The teacher is not charged with a crime, but DCF was eventually contacted and confirms its investigating.
"The question isn't going to be whether the child was abused or not. The question in this case is going to be if an employer, (a) child care center has an obligation to report something like this," said Celler.
But administrators insist the alleged cover-up isn't a fair representation of them or the teacher who still works here.
“The devil can send whatever he wants toward our schools to bring us down but this academy is going to change live,” said Barkley.
The child's mom said her autistic son was traumatized by what happened in that video and is no longer a student here.
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