Frustrated families want former Starry Elementary teacher out of a new classroom
Diane Graham started her new role teaching 5th and 6th graders at Vernon Middle School on Thursday, but parents have taken to the streets protesting her return to teaching after being acquitted for failing to report sexual abuse taking place in her classroom back in 2016.
Parents are demanding that Marion Independent School District keep Graham from teaching students.
"I just down want her back in the classroom," said Jason Jones. Jones is a parent of two children within the district.
"My grandchild is actually in the class that she is going to be serving," said Jim Conklin.
In January, a jury acquitted Graham of failing to report child sex abuse in 2016.
A teen classroom volunteer is now in state custody for sexually abusing students in her kindergarten class at Starry Elementary.
Graham testified she told the principal about a parent email reporting abuse but didn't tell law enforcement because she did not see the abuse herself.
"And now [they're] putting her back in a position where she is responsible for children again. It's unconscionable," said Jones.
Some parents said they found out Graham's new job only the day before.
"I found out, like a lot of parents here, through a social media post," said Jones.
Marion Independent School District released a statement Friday saying in part, "The district respects the jury's findings. Ms. Graham was on administrative leave and is now returning to work under her contract of employment."
Yet, parents still demand more accountability and have contacted the district to express their concerns.
"[I've got] no call back in two days," Conklin.
CBS 2 reached out to the district and Graham this week but did not hear back.
Some parents said it is not about putting Graham out of work, but preventing harm to their children.
"Put her to work in the administration building. Put her behind a desk. Just don't put her in front of children," said Jones.
Jones created a MoveOn.org petition on Wednesday urging the district to keep Graham from working with students, which has around 250 signatures as of Friday afternoon.
So far the district has paid out 2.7 million dollars to settle four lawsuits related to sex abuse, but the district did not admit to any liability in those cases.