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Special Section: Safe Schools
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RIALTO - When Charliena Marquez's son, Jesse, said he didn't want to go to school, she didn't think anything of it at first.
The family was new to Rialto, having moved from Victorville in 2012 after her husband got a new job.
"Toward the end of the first week, he started to complain," she said. "I thought, `He's just getting used to a new school, new job, no big deal."'
Then she found Jesse, 8, in bed crying, unwilling to go to school at Henry Elementary that morning.
"He's mean, he's mean. I'm scared of him," Marquez said Jesse told her.
The next week was Back to School Night at Henry Elementary, and she got to meet teacher Timothy Braby for herself.
"Very intense, very intimidating," Marquez said. "He intimidated me, and I'm the parent."
Braby declined to comment for this report. The Rialto Education Association, the union that represents Braby, also declined to comment.
Things didn't get better for Jesse: He started to bring home notes from school saying he wasn't doing his homework or class work. His parents asked him why he didn't raise his hand in school if he didn't understand something, and Jesse burst into tears.
Marquez called the school to set up a meeting with the principal, Sylvia Braggs, who said there were no open spots in other classrooms for Jesse.
Braggs also declined to comment for this report.
Marquez then called the district office and met with Edward D'Souza, the district's senior director of professional development, who reiterated that Jesse wasn't going to be moved.
"When my son feels scared like that, he's going to lock up and do nothing" and fail at school, she said. Marquez said she told the district leaving him in Braby's room was unacceptable: "I'm going to keep my son out of school until he can get a new class. This is bullying."
Marquez's mother decided they needed proof of what was happening in the classroom.
The family inserted a digital recorder into Jesse's backpack, which hanged on the back of his chair throughout the day of Aug. 31.
"We were so shocked," said Jesse's father, Jesse Marquez Sr. "I want my son out of this class."
On the recording, Braby lectures one of his 10-year-old charges: "Not very intelligent, are ya? Are ya? Why don't you grow up?"
Even seemingly trivial matters lead to loud reprimands:
"How many times do I have to say to indent? Do you not get what `indent' means, ... or not? What does `indent' mean? It means move it in! Just like I did! Can you not see the pink line, that's moved in? Yes or no? Can you see it? Then why can't you copy it that way? What do you mean, you don't know? Because you don't pay attention! That's why you can't copy it. You people don't pay attention. Right there on the board, in black and white, and you can't copy it down. Is that indented like I told you to do? No, it is not."
Rialto Unified officials object to Marquez's making the recording without Braby's consent.
"The district is aware of (this situation) and will continue to treat all allegations seriously," Rialto Unified spokeswoman Syeda Jafri said. "The situation involving the unlawful taping of instruction of a classroom teacher without the teacher's permission is under review and will be looked into. Since (it) involves sensitive personnel matters, it would be premature to disclose any further comment concerning the district's specific responses to (this situation) at this time."
On the recording, Braby makes another student, Sarah Gomez, spend recess sitting against the wall instead of participating because her parents didn't sign a test she had brought home to show them. The girl had gotten an "A+."
"My daughter's been a straight-B student up until now, third grade, this guy," Sarah's mother Rebecca Gomez said. "The first three weeks of school, she was getting straight-Ds."
In an attempt to turn things around, Gomez pulled Sarah out of her after-school program in favor of more time spent studying after school. The studying worked, and Sarah aced a test.
"I could see if it was an F or a D because she was trying to hide it," Gomez said.
She went to Braby, asking why he couldn't have made an allowance for her daughter.
"He said, `It doesn't matter; policy is policy,"' Gomez said Braby told her. "He was real abrupt: `I've been doing this 28 years, and I'm not going to change."'
Like Marquez, Gomez wanted to transfer her child to another class.
"They told me there was no other place for her," she said. "I left crying. I got the same runaround (from the district office): `There's nothing else we can do, there's no other place for her; she gets really high statewide testing scores."'
Gomez works and has to drop off children at two schools, making it difficult for her to move Sarah to another Rialto Unified campus.
"I don't want her to sit in the class where she's going to be degraded," Gomez said.
On Sept. 5, the Marquezes met with Braggs and Braby. The principal reportedly disputed Marquez's characterization of the teacher.
"You don't know what he's like," Marquez said Braggs told her. To which she replied that she did know what he was like because she'd recorded him. She pulled out a partial transcript of what was on the recording. According to Marquez, Braggs attempted to end the meeting immediately and Braby claimed the transcript was defamation and said he'd be getting a lawyer.
Jesse Marquez Sr. calmed things down and reiterated what they really wanted was for Jesse Jr. to be transferred to another class.
"A spot magically opened," Marquez said.
When the Marquezes left, they discovered two other parents - including Gomez - outside Braggs' office, they said, each seeking to get their children transferred.
Jesse's new class has been a success, Marquez said, and her son is happy and successful now.
As for Braby's class, however, Gomez said nothing's changed.
"She's still really afraid of him," she said.
When students don't understand the material, according to her daughter, Braby will still raise his voice and get irritable with them.
Reach Beau at via email, call him at 909-483-9376, or find him on Twitter @InlandED.