Mother of 4-year-old student allegedly hit by teacher speaks out

Melvin, Joseph Collins (48 years of age) AISDPD
Joseph Melvin (AISD Police Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The mother of an Austin ISD elementary school student allegedly hit by a teacher is speaking out following the arrest of 48-year-old Joseph Melvin, a teacher for children with disabilities.

The victim’s mother reached out to KXAN at the time of the incident, saying she was called to Pecan Springs Elementary School by the principal, who said there was an incident involving her then 4-year-old son.

“She said, ‘Your son has been assaulted by one of the teachers here,'” explained Mandy Herrera, the boy’s mother. “He should never have touched my son. He should have never been a teacher if he was going to be like that.”

Herrera says another teacher saw Melvin hit her son with his fist on the top of his head while eating lunch in the cafeteria. AISD police were called and the teacher was escorted out of the building, the mother said.

Melvin, Joseph Collins (48 years of age) AISDPD
Joseph Melvin (AISD Police Photo)

She said it wasn’t clear why the teacher hit her son. “To this day, I just ask the same question. I don’t know why he did it. There’s no reason for a teacher to lay a hand on any child,” Herrera said.

The mother believes the Austin Independent School District needs to do a better job of hiring quality teachers.

“There’s a lot of teachers doing a lot of things to little children that shouldn’t have been done,” said Herrera. “They need to make sure that basically, they have patience and if they qualify for those standards.”

Although her son experienced no physical injury after he was checked out and cleared at a local hospital, Herrera says this incident has changed her little boy.

“Something changed in him and I want that back,” Herrera said, crying. “I just want him to be the happy, little kid he was. That one phone call just changed everything. I don’t know if it could happen somewhere else. That’s always going to be in the back of my mind — if he’s okay at school. Should I be checking on him? Should I just not send him?”

Herrera says she just wants justice for her son.

“That’s all I want. I hope that this will never happen to another kid. I hope he just gets what he deserves honestly because, he shouldn’t have became a teacher if he was going to be reacting like he did,” she said.

Melvin was arrested Wednesday and a grand jury indictment was filed at the end of April.

In a letter sent to parents this week, Principal Elaine McKinney says Melvin has been on administrative leave since they received a report of the incident in November.

The district says Melvin has been with AISD since 2006 when he started and worked as a teacher’s assistant for three years. He then became a teacher and has been for 8 years. AISD says they are now taking “appropriate action” based on Wednesday’s development.

Jail records show Melvin has bonded out of the Travis County Jail.

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