LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A mother who was awarded a settlement from the Clark County School District is breaking her silence. Olivia Espinoza sat down with the 8 News NOW I-Team for an exclusive interview. A CCSD teacher was accused of abusing her son Matthew.
Matthew is 14-years-old; he is non-verbal and has autism.
Espinoza was one of three families who split a $1.2 million settlement. Valley taxpayers are footing the bill for the way school officials handled the reported abuse of students by a teacher.
In 2015, Espinoza learned her son’s teacher abused him in school. A series of events led to a lawsuit.
Three families, including the Espinoza’s, claimed the Clark County School District put their children, who all have special needs, in harm’s way, by keeping their children in teacher James Doran’s classroom even after other school staffers reported him for abuse.
“During the process, we noticed that many people knew it, but they were in silence,” Espinoza said.
An affidavit reveals three different complaints were filed at Forbuss Elementary. An assistant teacher even reported to police she witnessed Doran slapping a child’s hands, while another teacher reported that Doran threw a boy into a bean bag. An assistant also told authorities Doran grabbed a boy’s hands and threw them down forcefully.
Parents of students who were in his classroom learned about his arrest on the news.
“I knew it by the news, and that was physical and emotional; emotional abuse,” said Espinoza.
Here’s what the lawsuit alleges:
Doran used aversive intervention; that’s physical or mental abuse used to punish a child, which is against the law. In May of 2015, parents of two children say they did receive reports Doran used aversive intervention on the students, but the district minimized what really happened and never told them a criminal investigation into allegations of abuse was happening.
On July 14, 2015, a criminal complaint was filed against Doran, but he remained in the classroom for six weeks until his arrest on August 26.
“In the beginning, the people, they didn’t believe in us,” Espinoza said. “They say they just want money, and that is not true.”
In February of 2019, the CCSD’s board approved a settlement for all three families to receive $ 400,000 apiece. Doran pleaded guilty to one count of battery in 2016 and received a suspended six-month jail sentence. He also completed impulse control counseling and was ordered to stay away from all schools.
“We got justice,”Espinoza said.
James Doran went on to teach at another school district in New York.
Tomorrow on 8 News NOW at 5 p.m., the I-Team investigates how that could have happen.