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Parent Says Aide Choked Child; School Says Investigation Finds Otherwise

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A Madison mother says her six-year-old son was choked by a library aide at Lowell Elementary, but the school district says its investigation does not support that allegation.

The district has declined to say how it reached that conclusion, whether it spoke to any witnesses other than the student and the library aide, or give any details about its internal investigation, which was complete as of Dec. 10. 

A Madison Police investigation is ongoing, however. Madison365 has chosen not to name the aide because of the ongoing police investigation.

Kim Williams said when she picked up her three children on Dec. 6, the youngest, a first grader, was looking sad.

“He looked very down and sad. And he came to me and was like, ‘Mommy, my head feels funny.’ And I said, ‘Well, why does your head feel funny? What’s wrong?’ And he said, “(A library aide) picked me up by my neck and choked me.” 

When she asked why, he said he and some other children were “running around and name calling and (the aide) got really mad and he said that she lifted him up from behind his neck and was, I guess, choking him and put him on the wall.”

Williams said she immediately took the boy to see his classroom teacher, who said she knew nothing of the incident, and then the school social worker.

“We sat down with the social worker, and he told her the same exact story,” Williams said.

Williams said the social worker told her the school would investigate, but asked that she “keep it between us for right now.”

Williams said she went home but felt that she had to call police, but called the school social worker again, who then asked principal Ellen Franzone to call. 

“The principal wound up calling me before the authorities came,” Williams said. “She explained to me … that what happened was unacceptable and that they will open up an investigation and she has to contact the school district and HR and figure out what they wanted to do about the situation.”

Williams said she then met with the principal and other school officials on Monday, Dec. 9, and was told once again that the library aide had acknowledged the incident, at least in part.

“The principal basically told me that (the aide) acknowledged that the situation happened,” Williams said. “But they’re unsure how (the aide) grabbed my son or whatever. But it was still unacceptable because (the aide) has no right to touch any of the children. So she told me that (the aide) would be disciplined because she’s not trained in that area to be hands on with any child. She did acknowledge the situation and I wouldn’t know about the disciplinary action that they were going to take. They asked me, ‘What did I want done?’ I said, ‘Well, I want her fired. My son is not lying to me. He’s telling everybody the same exact story. She needs to lose her job.’ And she was like, well, she couldn’t guarantee. This is basically up to the school district. And she kept saying, ‘Well yes. I understand how you feel. This is unacceptable. She will be disciplined.’”

Williams said the principal said it was possible that the aide had touched the child and accidentally made a choking motion.

“Nut my son told me that it wasn’t an accident,” Williams said. “When he explained it to me, I asked him, ‘Well, when she choked you, what did you do? What did you say? Were you crying?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ Yes, he was crying and he told her to stop choking him and she put him on the wall and said, ‘Well, do you want me to do it again?’”

Williams said the school concluded its investigation on Dec. 10, and the principal let her know that that library aide would not be terminated but would be disciplined and given additional training.

Meanwhile, Williams’ Facebook posts indicate she was receiving support from other Lowell families. She has repeated publicly on social media and on a radio show hosted by activist Brandi Grayson that her son alleged that he was choked.

On Dec. 13, Franzone sent an email to Lowell families, apparently in response to Williams’ making the allegations public.

“I want to be very clear about the result of the school district’s investigation,” she wrote. “It did not support the allegation. It also did not conclude that the staff member involved poses a risk to student safety. It did not conclude that the student was physically injured.”

The email did not specifically mention the allegation of choking.

“You may have questions about information being spread that contradicts the results of our investigation. Our focus is on moving forward as a school community.”

A school district representative was unable to offer details about the investigation or how the conclusions were reached. The representative was also unable to say how the district had concluded an investigation within two days while the Madison Police investigation remains open over a week later.

This story will be updated as more details become available.