If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all.
Most of us learn that important life lesson in kindergarten, but apparently one teacher from Miami, Florida never did.
When concerned mom Kandy Escotto noticed that her five-year-old son, Aaron, was not his usual self, she took extraordinary steps to confront his teacher.
"He would cry when he knew he needed to go to school."
Last year, a few weeks after Aaron started attending kindergarten at Banyan Elementary School, Escotto noticed something had changed.
"He was behaving super weird," she told Local 10 News.
"He didn’t want to go to school. He would cry when he knew he needed to go to school."
A serious red flag came when they were doing homework together, and Aaron called himself a "bad boy."
Escotto asked her son why he would say such a thing, and he answered, "That's what my teacher tells me when I do my work."
Concerned by what he told her, Escotto complained to the school about his teacher, Rosalba Suarez. But nothing happened.
It was upsetting for Escotto, especially since Suarez had won the school's Teacher of the Year award last year.
So the worried mom took action, hiding a tape recorder in Aaron's backpack.
"I feel sorry for your mom. I really do. She is a little lost.”
Aaron's recorder taped four days of classes last October, and caught a number of upsetting comments from his teacher.
Suarez can be heard calling Aaron a "loser," replying to him, "Aaron, y tu is a losers."
In another exchange, Suarez says, "Whatever your mom wants to see, honey, whatever your mom wants to see, you tell me what she wants to see a nice job or she wants to see a loser's job."
The teacher can also be heard insulting Aaron for not filling in an answer sheet correctly.
Escotto herself is even mentioned by Aaron's teacher.
"You still don’t know how to write?" Suarez says, "I don’t know what to say to your mom."
"She is driving me crazy. Why is she driving me crazy? I feel sorry for your mom. I really do. She is a little lost."
After hearing the tapes, Escotto said she "finally understood" her son's behavior.
"She picked him out, she singled him out, she humiliated him in front of the whole class," Escotto said.
"She talked about me in front of him. No five-year-old should be able to go through that. That affected my family, affected him."
Tricky legal ground
Escotto confronted the school about her recordings, and even spoke with Suarez herself, but says the teacher was "very arrogant."
"She said she didn’t like Aaron’s behavior. I don’t understand why."
Aaron was moved to a new class, and Escotto says he's completely changed again since the switch.
"He went to honor roll. His grades changed and he's happy now."
But Escotto is not happy at all. She and her team or lawyers say Suarez caused "intentional infliction of emotional distress."
While secretly recording someone is normally illegal in Florida, Escotto argues a public school classroom has no expectation of privacy.
The Miami-Dade Public Schools board says it will "conduct a thorough review" of the case. But Escotto's lawyers call it open and shut.
"When you have a recording, and it's clear that this teacher is berating and abusing and calling a five-year-old kindergartner a loser, (there's) not much investigating to do," said Escotto's lawyer Raphael Lopez.
Do you think Escotto was right to record her son's teacher? Did Suarez's comments cross the line?
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