Mom says Aurora teacher took video to bully disabled son

Problem Solvers

AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Cellphone footage taken of a severely disabled 15-year-old boy has led his mother to pull him out of Laredo Middle School in Aurora. The footage taken by a special education teacher shows Silas Padilla having a meltdown in his classroom, crying and shaking his head.

Silas Padilla (Cell Phone Frame)

“The most upsetting thing behind it, is my son was crying because she (the teacher) took his wheelchair from him,” said mother Sabrina Padilla. She agreed to share the video with the FOX31 Problem Solvers after demanding the principal at Laredo Middle School provide her a copy of the footage that was taken without her permission.

Sabrina Padilla/Mom of Silas Padilla

In the video, one can see Silas kneeling in front of his walker. His mother told FOX31 he prefers to use a motorized wheelchair.

“They said all year it’s been a struggle with his wheelchair. They told me he couldn’t bring it — that he couldn’t use it. And I told them absolutely not. Those are his legs. If that’s what he wants to use, then that’s what he’s going to want to use. I thought I made myself very clear but I was disregarded,” said Sabrina.

Silas Padilla with mom Sabrina Padilla in background

Silas was born with a chromosome defect. As a result, he is non-verbal and can’t walk on his own. Sabrina says he has the academic skills of a 4- or 5-year-old child but because of his age is enrolled as an eighth grader in the special education program at Laredo Middle School.

Sabrina was tipped off to the video’s existence by a district employee. The whistle blower agreed to talk to investigative reporter Rob Low by phone if Low protected the person’s anonymity.

The staff member said it appeared the video was taken and then shared with a teacher at Smoky Hill High School to warn teachers they would be inheriting a problem child next year, when Silas will be a ninth grader.

“She recorded Silas upset and then shared it to demolish his high school reputation,” said Sabrina.

The Cherry Creek School District denies there was any malicious intent behind the cellphone footage. A district spokeswoman provided FOX31 the following statement:

“Information was shared between teachers as part of a transition meeting. The goal of these meetings is to ensure the successful transition of a student from middle to high school. The purpose of sharing information about students rising to high school is to ensure that teachers can meet the needs of the students they will be serving.”

SILAS PADILLA (Visiting FOX31/KDVR)

District spokeswoman Abbe Smith told the Problem Solvers the teacher who took the cellphone footage and shared it without the mother’s permission is not on leave but the district is continuing to look into the matter.

The anonymous staff member who alerted Sabrina disputed the district’s official version of events, insisting the video was not shared as part of a transition meeting pertaining to any students, let alone Silas.

Instead, the whistle blower said the video was shared during a teacher training and the whistle blower found the video to be inappropriate.

Sabrina is convinced the video served no educational purpose and was only shared to undermine her son and the perception high school teachers might have about him.

“You take his wheelchair away from him and you knew he wanted it. So you purposefully made him upset and then recorded him. It’s bullying. You know, how are we supposed to teach our kids not to bully if our teachers are being bullies? And then she uses the footage to show a teacher, saying he’s a horrible kid when she bullied him into crying that day,” said Sabrina.

She said she pulled her son out of Laredo Middle School on Feb. 10 when she learned of the video’s existence. She is currently trying to find a new school for him.

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