An investigation into the alleged abuse of a 5-year-old special-needs student at Liberty ISD has resulted in three former school district employees being charged with four counts of Abandoning or Endangering a Child.
All three have been arrested at this time – Tarah Michelle Tinney, 33, of Liberty, Melody Michel LaPointe, 47, of Baytown, and Augusta Danielle Costlow, 27, of Liberty.
LaPointe, who recently was working as a teacher for Bonnie P. Harper Primary School in Baytown, was arrested at the school by the Liberty County Pct. 4 Constable’s Office. Tinney, who was working at a medical office, was arrested at her place of business by the Liberty County Pct. 6 Constable’s Office.
As of Friday afternoon, all three women are being held at the Liberty County Jail and bond has been set at $15,000 per indictment per defendant for a total of $60,000 each.
According to the indictments against the three women, in April 2021, they placed “the child in imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment, namely by confining [a 5-year-old student] … to an isolation room where he fell causing bodily injury, and the defendant[s] did not voluntarily deliver the child to a designated emergency infant care provider.” Subsequent indictments allege that their actions also led to the child being deprived of food, and allowed to ingest his own urine and feces. Sources close to the case say the child was left alone in an isolated room for hours at a time.
Bluebonnet News reached out to Liberty ISD for comment and was referred to the law firm of Buechler and Associates in Austin, Texas. Attorney Cynthia Buechler issued this statement on behalf of Liberty ISD:
“Providing a safe and caring educational environment for our children is Liberty ISD’s first priority. When we initially were made aware of potential concerns regarding some educators’ interactions with one of our students, we immediately reported the matter to law enforcement and CPS.
“We removed the educators, who continued to work for us, from the classroom, and conducted a comprehensive investigation. Based upon our investigation, we reported the educators to the State Board for Educator Certification and shared our results with law enforcement officials. Upon completion of the investigation back in 2021, none of the individuals continued in our employment from that time forward. Liberty ISD is continuing to work with the Liberty County District Attorney’s office for the benefit of our children.“
As for Goose Creek Consolidated ISD, where Harper Primary School is located, Principal Maria Rosas released this statement:
“In an effort of full transparency, we want to inform our families of an incident that occurred yesterday during dismissal. A teacher at Bonnie P. Hopper Primary School was arrested yesterday by Liberty County constables. The cause for arrest occurred in Liberty County and is not affiliated with Goose Creek CISD in any way. The teacher is currently placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation, after which the District will take appropriate action. As this is a pending legal matter, Goose Creek CISD will allow the legal process to proceed and refrain from any further comment.
We want to ensure our families that the safety and security of your children is our #1 concern. We thank you for your continuous support of our campus and our district.“