RANDOLPH, Mass. - A special education teacher in Randolph appeared in court Monday to answer charges she physically abused three of her students.
A report from the Department of Children and Families - or DCF - looked into seven allegations against Tricia Rossman of physical abuse or neglect and in every case, the decision by DCF was that the allegation was unsupported.
Rossman is accused of smacking a child, grabbing another's shoulders in a pinching motion and one student told his father she hit him. On Monday in court, the teacher faced charges of assault and battery.
Rossman was suspended from her job as a special education teacher at the JFK Elementary School in Randolph after the allegations of abuse surfaced in late January. She remains on administrative leave.
The students in question have autism and are considered non-verbal in that they cannot completely or necessarily express themselves, but Rossman's attorney told the judge his client should not have even been in court because the DCF report essentially cleared her of wrongdoing.
Further, faculty members, including educational therapists, have been in her classroom and told Randolph Police these things did not happen.
"It's unfortunate we're here today. She didn't do anything wrong. She's a good teacher. She's well-respected by all of her colleagues. And this investigation was mishandled from the beginning," said defense attorney Peter Pasciucco.
He tells Boston 25 News he is very confident Rossman will be cleared of everything.
Rossman faces allegations of being physically abusive to some students, like Eric Batson.
Eric is largely nonverbal, but his parents say they noticed bruises after he returned from JFK Elementary.
"He was refusing to get dressed," said his mother, Joan Batson. "He was telling me, 'no school no school.'"
Eric's step-father said that Eric would come home with bruises on his ribs, arms and thigh.
Court papers describe Rossman's class as a "toxic" environment where "yelling," at juveniles with autism, "smacking" them, and even "dragging" them was allegedly witnessed.
One paraprofessional interviewed by police said Rossman's classroom was, "nice" and that they never saw Rossman hit a student.
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