‘He’s definitely not lying,’ mom rips Albany charter school’s response to alleged abuse to her son
A mother’s plea to parents: Always go the extra length to ensure your kids are okay.
13Investigates first reported about a lawsuit alleging a teacher’s assistant choked an elementary school student last week. Then that teacher was arrested. Now the boy’s mom is speaking exclusively with NewsChannel 13.
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Xayviona Spencer said it’s her son’s first year at KIPP Capital Region Schools.
She said he liked going to school until this lawsuit alleges Xayviona’s little boy was picked up off the floor, strangled and put in a closet by a teacher’s assistant. The incident on May 2 left her son with a cut on his neck.
“Now, he doesn’t really want to go. He just woke up yesterday and refused because kids were bullying him and asking him questions,” Xayviona said.
Spencer’s son is referred to as “P.S.” in the lawsuit.
He still attends KIPP Elementary, but Spencer said her son will transfer to a different school soon.
“I definitely hurt for him because he’s a kid, so he knows something happened to him, but I don’t think he really understands how harsh and malicious this person was towards him,” Xayviona said.
According to the lawsuit:
P.S. was in the bathroom line when other students started bullying him.
“He said that they were calling him annoying and telling him that they don’t want to play with him and that they don’t like him, basically,” Spencer said.
Her son asked the other students to stop because they were told to be quiet, Spencer said. Her son knew they would get in trouble if they continued to talk.
That’s when the lawsuit alleges the teacher’s assistant, Francine Ruffin, came over.
“She grabbed him by the wrist and took him out of the line into a closet, and then choked him and strangled him in the closet. And left him in there after,” Spencer said.
Xayviona told 13Investigates why she believes her son: “At first, I was confused. I believed him but thought maybe he mixed something up, but he has been saying the same thing this whole time. He spoke to his pediatrician and social workers; he’s been very consistent. He’s not definitely lying.”
Xayviona said her son sees a counselor at the school and meets with a psychiatrist after school.
“The school never called and told us anything about anything,” she said.
Xayviona said she went to the school the following day with the police. Ruffin was arrested for strangulation and endangering the welfare of a child.
“When we told him she got arrested, he literally said, ‘That’s good. I hope she goes to jail, and I don’t feel bad for her because of what she did to me.'” Xayviona said.
In a statement, KIPP Capital Region Schools said:
“As a school community, our thoughts and support are with our students and family. The KIPP Albany Community Elementary team will continue to partner with the family – as we do with all of our families – to best support the student and their success and well-being at school. As always, we will continue to review and strengthen our policies and practices to ensure the safety of all of our students and staff – it is our highest priority.
Based on our internal investigation, school leadership at KIPP Albany Community Elementary School did not ignore any allegations or say they were untrue. School and Regional leadership met with the family regarding the allegation on the morning of May 4. The staff member was suspended immediately following that meeting, and we began an internal investigation. On May 8, we were notified by Albany Police the staff member had been arrested, and we immediately terminated that staff member the same day. We are cooperating fully with external investigations.”
13Investigates spoke on the phone to Francine Ruffin’s lawyer, Matthew Hug. He said Ruffin worked at the school for 18 years and never had a problem before this lawsuit. Hug said Ruffin is innocent of the charges and her reputation is being smeared.
After 13Investigates initial reporting on the lawsuit, the CEO of KIPP Capital Region Schools emailed parents about the story.
One part of the email said, “The story contained several factual errors that don’t match our internal investigation including, and most notably, regarding the timeline of events and the action of our staff.”
However, the details of 13Investigates report came directly from the lawsuit and an arrest report.
Spencer said she was upset with the email that the school sent out.
Watch the story below to hear Mom’s response.
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