Teacher's aide claims video shows special ed teacher sleeping during class

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla - A former teacher's aide at Freedom High School captured video of what she says is a special education teacher sleeping during class.

"It is sickening," said Denise Collette, a parent of an autistic student who was in the classroom at the time the video was shot, in an exclusive interview with ABC Action News.

The aide, Ashley Harrison, said she took multiple videos of the teacher asleep throughout last school year.  In the video, you can see a female teacher with her head down on her desk and the lights off in the classroom.  The teacher does not budge even after two school bells go off minutes apart.

"She is not fit to walk a dog," said Harrison.

The naps, according to Harrison, could last anywhere from five minutes to 20 minutes.

Harrison said at the time she took the video back in May, there were five aides in the classroom and nine autistic students.  Harrison was assigned to specifically work with Kyle Collette.

The 18-year-old is autistic and suffers from Type 1 Diabetes.

With an autistic brother at home, Harrison felt it necessary to confront the teacher. Then, she took the videos the the principal.

The principal did not want to see the videos, according to Harrison.

"He told me to watch myself and the video could get me in a lot of trouble," Harrison added.

District leaders told ABC Action News the principal asked Harrison for the videos several times but that she never handed them over.

They said the investigated her accusations and determined them to be unfounded after talking to the special needs students in the class.

Harrison then turned the tape over to Kyle's parents.

Craig Collette said he went to talk to the principal and then the assistant principal but neither wanted to watch the video.

The Collette family hired an attorney who sent a written letter to the school district back in June alerting them the video existed.

The Collette's decided to make the tape public after two other incidents involving special education students within Hillsborough County Public Schools. 

On Monday, Jenny Caballero, 11, was able to wander out of an indoor gym class while under the watchful eye of five aids. Caballero was found dead in a retention pond a couple hundred yards behind the school following a six hour air and foot search. The medical examiner ruled her death an accidental drowning.

On Thursday, a bus driver who has worked for the district since 2008, was arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse.  Authorities say Stephanie Wilkerson, 40, used her foot to push a special needs student off the bus at Tampa Bay Boulevard Elementary.

The 8-year-old girl broke her ankle.

According to authorities, the girl hit Wilkerson minutes before after being told it was not her turn to get off the bus.

Wilkerson received a letter telling her not to return to work.  The school board will now hold a meeting to determine whether she should be suspended with pay or fired.

Kyle is now attending a different school after the school district allowed him to transfer.

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