Walnut Parents Accuse Teacher of Losing Children, Call for Retirement

Jonathan McCorkell/TurlockCityNews.com

A group of parents of Walnut Elementary School students say that kindergarten teacher Sue Lewis is no longer capable of providing adequate supervision of her students after their children were allegedly lost under Lewis’ care on several occasions, including during a field trip in Stockton.

The most recent alleged incident involved the son of parent Mary Toledo on Aug. 28. She says Lewis forgot her son in the bathroom in the school cafeteria on their way back from a morning assembly.

Toledo has since had her child moved to another kindergarten class.

“But that doesn’t mean I will forget about this,” said Toledo. “I don’t want to brush it under the rug.”

Parents are vehemently concerned for the safety of children in her class and some are calling for her to retire, as there has been an alleged past incident.

On Jan. 29, during this past school year, Lewis took her class of 22 kindergartners to a play in Stockton.

When leaving the facility two 5-year-old boys from her class got separated from the class. Whether the boys got lost or deliberately ran off is up for debate, but the parents of both boys, Alejandro and Sadith Velasquez, and Chris Fraioli and Angela O’Donnell, believe the fault lays with Lewis for her alleged lack of supervision.

All of the parents say their boys exited the facility out of a side door and walked across the parking lot (described as a Wal-Mart sized lot) unsupervised until a bus driver found them.

Fraioli says he witnessed the tail end of the incident because he was at the play as an unofficial chaperone of his son.

He explained that he followed the bus in his car to the facility when the play was over and he saw the two boys walking across the parking lot, but he did not recognize them because they were far away and they were so short he couldn’t identify them as they passed between cars.

“They crossed the huge parking lot and were about 20 feet from a busy street and one of the buses almost hit them when it was backing up,” said Fraioli. “All of the sudden the bus driver came zipping out of the bus and stopped them. Then I realized it was my son.”

He said the boys were unsupervised for about five minutes in the parking lot until the bus driver found them and then about 10 minutes later Lewis came up and verbally disciplined the boys.

The parents all met with Walnut Principal Mark Holmes and Lewis back at Walnut upon the classes return that day.

Holmes offered no comment on the alleged incidents, citing personnel issues.

However according to Turlock Teachers Association President Julie Shipman, Lewis told a far different account of the events.

“She was right behind them and the bus driver stopped them and she came up to them,” said Shipman. “They were gone for about three minutes. She followed all protocol on the field trip and there was no discipline action taken against her. Sometimes kids run off and the boys had a history of running off.”

The parents all expressed that their boys have never had any discipline issues and have never been known to “run-off.”

“How can you blame a five-year-old?” asked O’Donnell. “She is a nice lady and I have nothing against her and I know it’s not intentional. She is just not capable of keeping track and being organized with her students. Her time has simply come and she needs to retire.”

While her exact age is unknown, all of the parents say she is at least in her 60s. A source, who did not want to be named, says Lewis has been a teacher since, at least, the late 1980s or early 1990s.

O’Donnell, Fraioli and Toledo all feel she should not be fired, but should retire. However the Velasquez’ feel that she should be terminated and even went as far as setting up an online petition to send to district officials.

“We want her fired, it’s not safe for children in her class,” said Alejandro Velasquez. “She blamed my son and had no remorse for the incident and she confronted my wife about the petition in front of her class.”

The parents said that Lewis has had a history of problems keeping track of her students, including at her previous school, Osborn Elementary School.

“When we met with her and Mr. Holmes she talked about what happened at Osborn and because of that incident she has a sign-in and sign-out list from her class,” said O’Donnell. “She is the only kindergarten teacher at Walnut that has that.”
 

Comments 20

  1. A Walnut Parent says:

    Whatever the rights or wrongs of this incident maybe in regard to the teacher, it seems to me that a responsible parent would not leave a kindergarten field trip until they were certain that their child and the other students were safely back on the bus! Most concerened parents, even if they were not allowed to ride the bus, would, at the very least, wave their students off before leaving themselves. Perhaps Mr. Fraioli should look to his own actions and responsibilities in this matter!

  2. Sad to read this says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Mr. Fraioli was a chaperon and couldn’t even keep track of his own child on a trip. Its way too easy to blame the teacher these days.

  3. Chris Fraioli says:

    If you would read the story correctly I was a unofficial chaperone, meaning I was not on the bus, nor was I allowed to join going inside to watch the play due to not being a official chaperone at the time. I was parked out on the street behind the bus waiting for my child to come outside with the rest of his class. When people misunderstand what is written in a story they should read it again. When it comes down to it it is Mrs. Lewis’s responsibility to make sure not only the safety of my child but every other child in her class is safe and accounted for. Again just to make it clear, the story doesn’t say I left my child unattended. I sat at the street in my own vehicle parked behind the bus. This is the 4TH documented child Mrs. Lewis has “lost”. You can’t blame a 5 year old CHILD for your screw up. Miss Lewis is a very nice lady and I think that if she wants to continue to teach then she should look into teaching a different grade with more mature kids, not 5 year olds.

  4. I know what happened says:

    Mr Fraioli was unofficial chaperone that day. He was not in the parking lot leaving he was in the parking lot WAITING! The reason why he went is because of the past incident of Mrs. Lewis losing a child at Osborn. Mr. Fraioli was a responsible parent for going in the first place. I know that the incident would have been covered up had he not been THERE!!!

  5. Lj says:

    I don’t even have a kid in her class and never have and even I have seen her lack of watching her students. What about day 1of school with these brand new students and she didn’t even make sure they got lunch. So a couple students didn’t eat? How about all the days she has been late to school and rushes the kids to opening like it’s their fault. I don’t know about how she teaches but these parents have a legit concern.

  6. Guest says:

    I was in the classroom that day she lost the two students on the field trip picking up a student and in the article it states that ms. Lewis confronted that mans wife in front of the class but it was the other way around. The woman was understandably upset and was going off on ms. Lewis and ms. Lewis was listening and then said her side of things and the lady kept on her and wouldn’t lay off until finally me. Holmes came in and said that they needed to take the conversation to the office not in front of everyone.

  7. Some points to ponder says:

    1. Odd that a parent so concerned about his child’s safety would be so far away from said child that he was unable to recognize him.

    2. Equally odd that it took six months for so long for those concerns to fester before making them public in this sensationalist manner.

    3. If these parents are so dissatisfied they should remember that Walnut is a magnet school and,although they are privileged to have their child attend such an excellent school, they do have the right to return their home school at any time!

  8. Oh please! says:

    What purpose do you serve as an “Unofficial Chaperon” if you see little ones walking through the parking lot and you do nothing? You’re complaining the teacher but you can’t get out of you car to check on young children wondering in the parking lot. Please don’t chaperon any more school event.

  9. Tom F says:

    I think this Turlock School District board needs to start hiring the right teachers and star monitoring what they are doing. Is this board totally brain dead?

  10. "some points to ponder" says:

    Your a idiot. Mr.Fraioli clearly said he was waiting
    next to the bus for his child. He clearly stated that from the bus to the auditorium that there was a large parking lot separating them. Should a parent really have to worry about the safety of there child from the bus to the auditorium? I can say I can only PRAY that YOUR CHILD comes up missing and you can see how’d feel about your child’s teacher. Your a piece of (*edited by tcn) and you can stay the (*edited by tcn) out of the comments you low life. Hope you die (*edited by tcn).

  11. Guest says:

    I battled the Ms. Lewis issue in the 2010-11 school year. The principal didn’t help me with transferring my child into a new class after roughly 15-20 meetings with him. I took my child out of Ms. Lewis’ class in February on a Friday and enrolled him at his home school on a Monday and have not regretted that decision–one of the more outrageous one’s of my life.

  12. This. says:

    When does anyone recognize good teachers? Just wondering.

  13. PRO LEWIS!!!! says:

    I have experienced Ms. Lewis as a teacher. And if you knew me, you would know that I would be the first to chew someone up and spit them out when it came to my sons education or safety. Ms. Lewis is a GOOD TEACHER! Plane and simple! Everyone has things going on, but I have never been concerned for my son. I feel that certain parents, not to mention any names, used whatever ammo they could find to get their way, instead of making their children responsible for their own actions. I know a mother who had a child in Ms. Lewis’ class the year that the fieldtrip “incident” occurred, even though her son was only five like the other boys, he was able to recall that those two specific boys had in fact been known for “running off” at school. And as for the woman this year, her son was constantly being corrected. And I feel she used whatever she could find to get her way. Instead of making her son responsible for his actions. And as for the supposed parent last year, who apparently witnessed his son sneaking off at the end of the performance, why was this parent just showing up at the end of the show? And he just happened to show up, in Stockton, at the perfect time? RRiiiggghhhttttt! The true downfalls in this situation are that the Administration at Walnut gave into this strong arming mother instead of telling her that she was welcome to go back to her home school and give her spot up to one of the 100’s of other children trying to get in and that these liberal reporters continue to print one sided stories without any regard for FACTS!!

  14. you know all says:

    No one said he showed up at the end of the show. He clearly stated in the story he was waiting next to the bus outside. So your saying a 5 year old remembers two specific boys running off all the time? Take that child to the media and have them tell the media what happened. But guess what, you WON’T cause your blowing smoke. You don’t sound like a very good parent yourself and your a terrible liar. Lewis is a very nice woman, but just like others are saying. She is incapable of watching after children so young. I’m not against her, but she has a record of losing children. If it happened once maybe twice throughout her career then ok it happens. But so far its been a proven 5 children, and who says there’s not more out there. The story is fresh and not even a week old, give it another week and see how many others come forward. So should we not doing anything and wait until she loses another child? What are we going to do if the next child she loses on her watch dies? We going to give her a slap on the hand and send her back to lose yet another kid? If you have “FACTS” proving otherwise then present them to this “liberal” reporter you are downing so much. I’m sure if you have proof that he’d be more than happy to put it out there for all to see. But untill then YOU weren’t there saved your just a reader of the story. YOU HAVE YOUR OPINION AND THEY HAVE THERE “FACTS” & “PROOF”. Prove them wrong. Mr. or Mrs. Riiggght

  15. Guess not "just a reader" says:

    Actually, the field trip was last year and the boy who recalled the two trouble making boys was in their class. His mother asked him about it when it happened a YEAR AGO! And if you “recall the story” the father stated that he was driving up, that’s why he was to far away to recognize that one of the two children were his! How many parents reading this have gone to the store, turned around and not seen their child. Even if just for a spilt second, your heart drops into a panic. Do you pop your own hand and scold yourself? “I should have not taking my eye off of my child to read the label on this organic pasta! Shame on me!!!! Heaven forbid we teach our children to be responsible and to be accountable for their actions! Never mind the other 8 or so teachers and the approved chaperones, these kids got past a dozen or so adults! No its the teachers fault! Other wise it would be our fault as parents, for not giving our children the necessary skills to grow into responsible adults! And my point about the journalist was that the only info put into the article was from this ridicules disgruntled parents! No one seems to mention that this teacher taught at Osborn and now at Walnut, two of the hardest schools to get into in the area. And as far as the kid getting left in the bathroom, I’m sorry get over it. He’s at school on school premises. Just because I’m not saying who I am, doesn’t mean that I’m a lot closer to the situation then you think. I could be walking by you every morning. I don’t have to clarify anything to anyone, I’m trying to remind my fellow Turlock’ians that their are two sides to every story, including this one. Something that the journalist neglected to touch on. But like I said before, if you have that big of issue with her, go back to your home school. There are 150 other kids who are jumping at the chance to take your spot. But it is a little petty that you are so insecure that you feel the need to bash me as a parent, because you cant control yours.

  16. Mike Thomlinson responding to Points to Ponder says:

    Clearly the person who posted “points to ponder” has significant anger issues. You hide behind an alias so you can say horrible things. I hope you’re not a parent because you attitude is frightening. I think its time for you to get some counseling and please stay away from children. You’re the last role model they need.

  17. Watchdog for Turlock says:

    Sean Gilbert (http://www.turlockfootball.com/Gilbert.htm) over at Turlock High School should be fired, too. He is mentally retarded and incapable to teach.

  18. Ty White says:

    Wow. This is literally just wow. I read a comment about Mr. Sean Gilbert from THS. And I think it is very incorrect. He is a very great teacher. I had his class my Junior year of High School. I’m 20 years old now. So you can do the math yourselves. But I always dozed off in his class and rarely payed attention. Which was wrong of me. But when I did pay attention I learned a lot. He is a fantastic teacher. There isn’t very many teachers I can say that about. And I am heading to Job Corps here on 9/15/2014 for HEO (Heavy Equipment Operator). But I did finish school and I do have a highschool diploma.

  19. TOLEDO says:

    All in all, my son doesnt belong in her class. My son went to state preschool last year and had no problem. I take responsibility for my child and his actions but things add up, especially in the first weeks of school. From a few children not getting lunch, to having a sub the 3rd day! Being on her phone while addressing me about my child to not knowing how many kids shes supposed to have. I even volunteered in her class to first hand see how its ran. And unfortunately there is no structure. Kids will run all over you(teacher sub, daycare.etc) if they know they can. One day my child came home with a yellow card stating “…thought everything was funny”. Uhm im sorry now hes going to all of a sudden be reprimanded for being “giggly”. I love the school, and its the best in town, with the best administration but this teacher was not fit for my child and my child wasnt fit for her class. I took the appropriate actions, meeting with the teacher, meeting with vice principal and principal, my husband and i even had a group meeting with ms lewis and mr homles. We left the meeting feeling positive and hopeful. But unfortunately things didnt get better.

    For some this might not seem like “news” but we were trying to shed light on this problem. And if you dont like it then dont read it or comment, move on to the next.

    Plain fact, i saw her count all the students and walk off to class while my child was still in the bathroom. She had no idea. Thankfully it was on campus and i was there!

    This wasnt about embarrassing her. Shes an adult and a teacher, and she has responsibility. As do we at our jobs, or even as parents.

  20. . says:

    I think all teachers are great. Just some not as capable as others. Yes age does affect some teachers, but they try their best.

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