Lake County

‘Dragged like a little rag doll’: 2 Lake County school employees resign after video shows student dragged

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — School leaders say a Lake County school guardian bragged about doing a so-called “Superman Carry” on a 6-year-old kindergarten student.

The two employees, a dean and school guardian, have resigned in lieu of termination. The parents of the 6-year-old child want to know why no local law enforcement agency is pursuing a criminal case in the matter.

They provided a copy of clips of video they received from the Lake County school district. In one video, you can see the student being pulled by the wrist, dragged up a staircase and down a hallway by a school dean at Eustis Heights Elementary School. Then the school guardian grabs the student by his belt loop and continues to drag him.

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According to the investigative report provided by Lake County Schools, a school guardian sent a text message to the school principal at Eustis Heights Elementary. It was a message he had received from a fellow EHES school guardian, and was sent to another guardian who doesn’t work at the school, that he did the “superman carry and it put a really good wedgy” on the 6-year-old student. The school guardian described that it involved lifting the student off the ground by holding the waist of the pants from behind with the student’s feet off the ground.

It was horrifying for his parents to watch.

“It breaks my heart because as a dad I want to protect him (sighs) and to know that I couldn’t, that hurts,” Kevin Findley said.

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And there’s no video so far of what their son told them happened once he was in an office with the guardian and dean.

“He said he was slammed in the chair and said one of the guardians had squeezed his neck,” Marian C. Findley told Channel 9 investigative reporter Daralene Jones.

Prior to this incident on March 8, the Findleys had been receiving calls from the school about their son’s behavior.

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He was described as defiant, sometimes running away when school employees tried to correct his behavior. His parents believe he was acting in fear of those he believed might hurt him.

“We don’t have defiant issues at home with our son. We did meetings over there at the school just to kind of see what’s going on,” Kevin said.

They later found out that similar issues happened to their son.

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“It happened more than one time, let me just be clear. The video they gave us, just four accounts,” Marian said.

According to the investigative report, the principal expressed concerns about how the dean and guardian dealt with students, concerned they were too hands on. Another employee said he witnessed the guardian apply force to pressure points on a student to “get their attention.” And once the dean said she had to remind the guardian that, “their they were dealing with kids and not hoodlums from the ghetto.”

“Why is that verbiage being used at a school. That baffles me,” Kevin stated.

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Two days passed before the Findleys were notified about this incident. A spokesperson for the district stated the following:

We take student safety very seriously. When the principal was made aware of the allegations she looked into the situation and notified parents the next day, called DCF as we required to do, and notified our Employee Relations Department. Employee Relations conducted an investigation and recommended termination. Both employees resigned in lieu of termination. Employee Relations reported both individuals to the Florida Department of Education. An additional allegation was made against a separate employee. An investigation into that employee’s alleged involvement is ongoing.”

DCF has also re-opened a case because the parents reported it directly. We were not able to find any immediate personal contact information or an attorney for the school guardian or dean. The Lake County State Attorney’s office told us they did not pursue a case because Eustis Police determined there was no probable cause.

Eustis Police told us in a statement that the incident was investigated by detectives, the state attorney’s office was consulted and determined there was no criminal intent and the case was the  closed.

“I don’t know why when clearly there’s video of my son being dragged like a little rag doll,” Marian said.

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