HOUSTON – A Houston Independent School District teacher has been charged after being accused of assaulting a 5-year-old girl on Nov. 3 at Katherine Smith Elementary, according to court records.
Jenny Alicia Dominguez, 44, has been charged with injury to a child under 15 years old.
The incident was reported after an employee witnessed the assault on a surveillance camera around 10:44 a.m. within the school grounds, according to documents. Dominguez reportedly grabbed 5-year-old Fany Saldana by the hair and left arm, causing the child to lose her balance. After Fany fell, the suspect dragged her across the concrete ground for a short distance, court documents said.
According to court documents, Dominguez then dragged Fany between her legs and was seen standing over the child. As the girl was sitting on the ground, Dominguez reportedly grabbed her left arm and dragged the girl on the ground again until they reached a trash can that was located approximately 29 feet from where the teacher dragged the child.
Another witness who saw the incident also told investigators that the incident happened over Fany not wanting to throw a fork away in the trash. The witness told investigators that as Dominguez dragged the girl toward the trash can, she heard the teacher say to the child in Spanish, “lo vas a tirar,” and “no seas chiflada,” which translates in English to “you’re going to throw it away, don’t be spoiled.”
Witness described the teacher’s behavior as irrational and out of control, according to court documents.
When the witness spoke to Fany after the incident, she told them that her arm was hurting, documents read. Fany’s arm was reportedly bright red with a small laceration.
The child’s mother, Patricia Saldana, said her daughter used to love school and couldn’t wait to go and see her friends and teachers.
“I send her to school because that’s supposed to be a safe place for all the kids, not just little kids,” explained Patricia Saldana, Fany’s mother.
The mother said her daughter loved school and couldn’t wait to get home and share everything she learned each day with her siblings.
“The first few weeks she said, ‘I love going to Ms. Dominguez’s class,’ and all that,” said Patricia.
But now, she says her school is no longer her “safe place.”
“Why would you do that to a little girl when she still does not know what she’s doing wrong or what she’s doing right,” said Patricia.
After she found out what happened to Fany, Patricia said her husband rushed to the school to pick her up. She said Fany didn’t say much until she got in the car. She said her arm was clearly red and scratched up. She complained it hurt for a few days.
“The officer told me to take her to the hospital after they saw the video to make sure there was no internal damage to her since she was dragged,” explained Patricia.
She explained that this was not the first incident with her former teacher. Her daughter came home a few weeks ago expressing Ms. Dominguez called her names and threw some of her things on the floor. She told her she called her fat and said she didn’t need to eat.
Patricia said she was going to approach the principal the week her daughter was injured.
“She would rub her belly and say, ‘Oh, I am full. I don’t want to eat. I’m big. I’m done.’ All she would want to do is exercise,” explained Patricia.
When she got the call from the principal on that Tuesday afternoon, she said it was the final straw.
“I want the teacher to be punished for what she did and to not, if possible, be around little kids anymore. I don’t know if my child is the first she’s done that to or if there have been others that have stayed quiet, but I’m not staying quiet for my daughter.”
Dominguez has not been arrested. The teacher’s current status of employment is unknown at this time.
HISD released the following statement on Friday:
“HISD takes these situations very seriously, and the safety and well-being of our students is always our absolute top priority. HISD PD was notified of an allegation of misconduct and the educator was immediately reassigned pending the outcome of the investigation. Due to the Family Education Right’s Privacy Act (FERPA) and the pending investigation, HISD will not be providing additional information at this time.”