The mother of an Agnes Gray Elementary School student has filed a complaint with the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office against Superintendent Monica Henson regarding an alleged incident of abuse last fall. Nicole Carter/Advertiser Democrat file

WEST PARIS — The mother of an Agnes Gray Elementary School student at the center of an alleged physical restraint controversy last fall has filed a complaint with the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office.

The action follows the Jan. 18 meeting of the Oxford Hills School District directors where the president of the Oxford Hills Education Association presented 27 complaints against Superintendent Monica Henson and announced the majority voted that they have no confidence in her leadership.

Henson, who was hired in July, responded to their complaints and concerns Wednesday, the day after the meeting.

The Maine Education Association released a statement Monday morning announcing that two School Administrative District 17 educators have filed reports with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and provided eyewitness accounts of three Agnes Gray school employees regarding allegations of abuse.

Ashley Rowe of West Paris, the mother of the boy involved, said she was originally told about the incident by Henson in an email exchange Sept. 9. Henson was filling in as a substitute at the school.

Rowe said she only learned the full details last week after the school board meeting.

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She said the information from the board meeting was that Henson grabbed her son by the arm and pulled him until they both fell on the floor and then grabbed him again when he tried to get away. After he got out of her grip and fled to the school cafeteria, Henson cornered her son to keep him from running out of the building.

According to Rowe, Henson’s email said she had the student “by the shoulder to take him into the office where he could cool off and calm down. He spun around and his arms slipped so his forearms were in my hands. I have very short nails and I couldn’t dig them into someone if I wanted to, which I never would do anyway.”

Rowe said in an interview Friday that it didn’t match what her son told her Sept. 9 and again last week.

“He said, ‘she grabbed my arm and tried to pull me down the hallway. Then we ended up on the floor.’ He said he almost got thrown into the wall because she was throwing him around,” Rowe said. “They’re tugging and finally let go and they both fell. He got up and he said that she grabbed him again, and this is when her nails dug into his arm. He got loose and ran into the cafeteria. He was cornered and she was yelling at him.”

“I originally thought he was maybe overexaggerating when he told me that she had hurt him,” Rowe said. “Now, come to find out, he was not exaggerating. I feel like a horrible person and a horrible mother for believing an adult over my child.”

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The altercation occurred after several students were unruly during their lunch break. Rowe said her son said he was not part of the misbehavior, but got up to put things in the trash after he had eaten, after Henson had told the students to remain seated.

“There was no need for her to restrain him, no attempt at de-escalation,” Rowe said. “All she did was yell at them and scold them.”

“In her mind, she knew he was a behavioral child,” Rowe said. “Why would you lay hands on a behavioral child you know absolutely nothing about?”

Rowe said Saturday that she received a call from SAD 17’s director of student services, Jan Neureuther, at 7:56 p.m. Friday saying she had been instructed Jan. 19 by the school board to file a report with DHHS on what occurred with Rowe’s child.

“She said she was originally told not to call me and let me know that they filed a report,” Rowe said. “She said she then got a phone call the night of Jan. 20 instructing her to let me know. This all came from the school board.”

“I did let her know that I had reported it to the police,” Rowe said.

Agnes Gray Elementary School serves 140 students from prekindergarten to sixth grade, according to its website.

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