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Abilene mother: ‘I was devastated' after police said teacher bit her autistic son

Video: Abilene mother: ‘I was...

ABILENE, Texas - Christina Hernandez couldn’t believe what she was hearing when police said her 4-year-old autistic son had allegedly been bitten by an Abilene ISD teacher.

"I was speechless and so I rushed home and, you know, I checked on him and made sure he was okay,” Hernandez said, remembering the events of Feb. 1. “My son is nonverbal, so I couldn't just ask him what happened or ‘How are you?’”

Hernandez made the comments Wednesday, one day after Abilene police arrested 25-year-old Kirsten Joelle Barnett in connection with the alleged biting of her son at Locust Early Childhood Center. Barnett, who has declined comment, has been charged with injury to a child, a third-degree felony.  She resigned from her Abilene ISD teaching position on April 7.

Following the incident, Hernandez said she noticed a big regression in his therapy sessions and his overall behavior. It is only now, weeks later, that she is noticing an improvement again. 

He was diagnosed with autism nearly three years ago, she said.

"I was devastated,” she said. “Really I was just devastated. Heartbroken. Guilty. You know, as a parent, you feel guilty like did I … was there any signs? I was basically sending him to school every day with someone who was hurting him," she said.

Hernandez said Barnett has been her son’s teacher for two years and that she felt like she could trust her.

"I was just shocked,” Hernandez said. “I didn't know what to believe at the moment.”

Other parents at Locust Early Childhood Center weren’t notified of the incident, only that a new teacher was replacing Barnett.

The mother of another student was outraged by the incident.

"There's no reason to abuse a child at all or come close to biting one,” said Adrian Cortez, whose daughter attends the school. “That's childish things. Grown adults should have no kind of even thought about doing stuff like that."

To help prevent instances like this in the future, Hernandez wants to say to those responsible for special needs children: "If you cannot handle it, ask for help."


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