Santa Rosa teacher accused of abuse agrees to counseling

Willie Swindle runs away from Dan Noyes.
April 25, 2013 3:23:52 PM PDT
The criminal case against a Santa Rosa High School teacher accused of striking one of his special education students is over, for now at least. The teacher, 67 year-old Willie Swindle, was placed on paid administrative leave from Santa Rosa High School, after the I-Team's Dan Noyes reported the complaints against him.

Swindle didn't want to talk about what happened in court Wednesday -- he sprinted away from the camera. But, he agreed to a diversion program. If he undergoes counseling and performs community service, three misdemeanor counts of child abuse will be dismissed in a year.

Manuel Delgado, the father of the special education student Swindle is accused of striking, sees this as a victory. "It looks like he's taking responsibility and that's great," he said. "I wish this would have happened a year ago."

Manuel Delgado's son, Michael, says that Swindle would regularly take him into the hallway at Santa Rosa High School for what the teacher called "a pow wow," and that he would "thunder clap" the student's ears.

Michael Delgado: "He would go..." (smacks his ears)
Dan Noyes: "With both hands."
Michael Delgado: "Yes."
Dan Noyes: "On your ears? On your ears?"
Michael Delgado: "On my ears, he's done it on my face. He's pinched my cheeks."

Swindle wouldn't talk Wednesday, but he denied hitting Michael when Noyes first saw him last year.

Dan Noyes: "The family says that you struck Michael."
Willie Swindle: "Yeah."
Dan Noyes: "Is that true?"
Willie Swindle: "No, that was unfounded, they did an investigation."
Dan Noyes: "It was unfounded?"
Willie Swindle: "Yeah."

But, the school district's investigation found witnesses who confirmed Swindle clapped another student on the ears, and that he clapped Michael's cheeks on at least two occasions, and "flicked" or "pinched" his ears, asking at one point, "Does this hurt?"

Swindle's lawyer, Steve Gallenson, refused to comment Wednesday, and got physical when Noyes tried to take a picture of his client.

"I just need to get a picture of him for the news today," Noyes said during the altercation. "You can't touch... What are you doing, you maniac? You're kidding me, right? You're going to body check me in a public hallway. You can't touch me."

Gallenson began to run after Noyes, until he turned the camera on him.

Swindle's legal troubles may not be over. Delgado is planning a lawsuit against the teacher and against the district, for how school officials handled the family's complaints.

"They can't go on doing this to our kids, our special needs kids, because this messes them up for the rest of their lives, and we as parents have to deal with this as we would, and it's not right," he said.

The sheriff's deputies at the courthouse asked if Noyes wanted to press charges after the altercation with the attorney. Noyes declined, choosing to finish the story rather than spend the time to file a police report.


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