LAKEVIEW — A teacher at Inter-American Magnet School is being investigated for allegedly slapping a misbehaving 9-year-old student in the face.
Mandarin language teacher Miaomiao Chen allegedly slapped third-grader Julius Rosero on the cheek, according to an incident report from the school given to his mother Linda Reyes.
The report was written on Feb. 5 by a person identified in the report as "egallo." A school employee said it was Assistant Principal Elizabeth Gallo.
According to the report, four of five students witnessed Chen making contact with Julius' face. Chen allegedly told Julius, who was laughing and being loud, to stop talking.
Julius then called another student "Fat Boy," and Chen slapped Julius on the hand in response, according to the report, which included the accounts of the other students.
Then Julius allegedly punched the stomach of another student. After the punch, Chen allegedly slapped Julius's cheek, according to the incident report. One student told school officials he or she couldn't tell if it was hard or not, and another student said it was a soft hit, according to the report.
Julius said his face was red from the slap, though the report from Gallo said she did not find any marks.
When asked about the incident in the school's office Thursday morning, Chen said "he lied." At that point, Chen was told by school counselor Amber Villarreal to go to class.
"I was in complete shock," said Julius' mother Linda Reyes of hearing the news from Gallo. "I was like, 'This is a lie. There is no way.' "
Reyes and her husband Patrick Rosero have had two children graduate from the school — a daughter who's now 20 and a son who's now 18. Reyes volunteered at Inter-American for three years when they were students.
Reyes said that the child her son punched was a cousin.
Reyes and her husband said they have only heard good things about Chen, who started at Inter-American last fall, according to a school bio.
Reyes said she knows students will get "crazy and obnoxious" and acknowledges that her son "is not innocent." But she said she'd never heard of a teacher slapping a child at the school.
"I thought, 'This is something you see on the news,'" Reyes said.
Principal Vernita Vallez refused to comment, saying she would "prefer to not answer any questions from reporters." Gallo also had no comment.
A CPS spokesman said they started investigating the incident on Feb. 6 and that it's ongoing so no more details could be revealed. It typically takes about a month for investigations to be completed, the spokesman said.
According to the CPS employee discipline manual, corporal punishment that results in deliberate use of physical force with a student, including slapping or other physical contact, may be punished with suspension without pay for one to 30 days or discharged. The teacher may appeal a discharge decision.
Reyes said the time it has taken to make a decision is "an insult" to her family.
"They said if they thought it was an emergency, something highly serious, they’d take her out," she said. "It was kind of an insult. We weren’t the ones who made this up. The school called us."
Reyes and her husband do not want to sue and do not want to see Chen fired — but they do want to see the teacher suspended. Getting physical in front of other students sets a bad example, Reyes said.
Julius has been suspended for bad behavior immediately after it happened, and for a teacher to escape discipline does not make sense, his mother said.
"When you touch a child like that in any way, there’s got to be some sort of consequence," she said. "Something to show you can’t do this, no matter what the situation is."