Teacher pleads not guilty to abusing students

March 1, 2012 6:27:28 PM PST
Here is a follow up to a story we brought you exclusively last month. The teacher accused of abusing special needs children on the peninsula at a school there spoke out for the first time on Thursday, during her first court appearance.

The District Attorney said the alleged abuses happened in a special ed program at Roosevelt School in Redwood City.

Teacher Alexia Bogdis appeared in the Redwood City courthouse, not far from the school. She pleaded not guilty to charges of child cruelty and battery in a school.

"I have never abused a child and I can't believe this is happening. I have nothing else to say," said Bogdis.

Bogdis is accused of abusing two autistic children in her special education class between December and January. Prosecutors say she slapped, kicked and shoved them. Last month, .the father of a 5-year-old boy spoke to us exclusively about his son. He asked not to be identified.

"She come behind him and kicked his chair forward and my son fell into the table and hurt his chest," said the father.

An internal school investigation revealed that six employees knew of possible abuses, but failed to report them. They face disciplinary action. And all school employees will now undergo training on reporting abuses.

"There is an excellent online mandated reporter training that I've taken and we're having all new employees take that and all current employees," said Redwood City Superintendent Jan Christenson.

While the six employees may have violated state reporting laws, they will not be prosecuted.

"The people who observed her conduct are more important to us as witnesses than they would be as defendants in a criminal case," said Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti.

The mother of the other child, who reportedly was abused, came to the hearing on Thursday.

"I'm here to see that hopefully she'll get punished and get what she needs to get for it," said Nadia Cortez.

The attorney for the 5-year-old says school officials never gave his clients a full accounting of what was happening.

"They're upset the school district hasn't bothered to call them, to tell them personally, 'This is the action we're taking,'" said attorney Chris Dolan.

We asked school superintendent Jan Christenson why.

Christenson: We made the decision to communicate to all the parents at the same time.
Lee: Didn't you have a responsibility to communicate to the parents of the two children.
Christenson: That was the decision we made.
Lee: Not giving me a reason why?
Christenson: That was the decision we made.

What the superintendant will say is that she is in the process of setting up meetings with all of the parents. Meantime, Bogdis is out on bail. The judge ordered her to stay away from schools and from children under the age of 18. The pretrial motions start in May and we will be there.


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