3 former Liberty ISD employees facing child abuse charges

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.

18 COMMENTS

    • I know 2 of Ladies and one of them took care of my children when they were little. They are good people put in an impossible situation and abandoned by the administration that is ultimately responsible for this situation. It is sad and a shame. Liberty ISD will lose good educators as a result of this.

      • All these people defending them would be singing a different tune if these women were a different ethnicity

      • How can people defend three WOMEN who are supposed to protect children who failed?!?! I don’t care what role they played in the incident they knew what was going on and not a single one of them did a damn thing to PROTECT this child from ABUSE!

  1. Some of the language in this article is inappropriate and inaccurate. What this student was “allowed” to do, implies nothing was done to prevent this. It’s a shame to see people condemning these women without all the information.

  2. What happened to “innocent until proven guilty”?

    And I understand this is a special needs child, however, many parents do not make their children (without special needs) behave in a manner that is socially acceptable. So when they send them to public schools and they act like brats and a teacher disciplines them the teacher is punished.

    Our society is increasingly turning against two of the most sacred and needed resources in this country- TEACHERS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT

  3. If at 5 a child is willing to eat and drink their own bodily waste that kid should not be in a public school environment . These people are educators not “special needs” mental health professionals. At some point “inclusion” goes too far and this is the result.

  4. Well abused students at LISD come in many forms! This has been going on for years, the students don’t really have to be mentally or physically challenged! Either you fit in with “the click”, and go on through to receive a proper education and diploma. If you don’t, you are verbally abused by some of the staff that “rubs off” on the other students to do the same! That student is made to feel less confident about themselves, dumb, stupid, basically, they “fall through the cracks”. I’ve seen this happen to many students in this school district. Abuse from some of the teachers, staff, and students come in many forms.

  5. As a boy with an autism spectrum disorder [not to mention high sensitivity and resultant ACEs] I was often deemed ‘difficult’. The first and most formidably abusive authority figure with whom I was terrifyingly trapped was my Grade 2 teacher, in the early 1970s.

    Although I can’t recall her abuse in its entirety, I’ll nevertheless always remember how she had the immoral audacity — and especially the unethical confidence in avoiding any professional repercussions — to blatantly readily aim and fire her knee towards my groin, as I was backed up against the school hall wall.

    Luckily, she missed her mark, instead hitting the top of my left leg. Though there were other terrible teachers, for me she was uniquely traumatizing, especially when she wore her dark sunglasses when dealing with me.

    But rather than tell anyone about my ordeal with her and consciously feel victimized, I instead felt some misplaced shame. And as each grade passed, I increasingly noticed how all recipients of corporeal handling/abuse in my school were boys; and I had reasoned thus normalized to myself that it was because men can take care of themselves and boys are basically little men.

    For some other very young boys back then and there, there was her sole Grade 2 counterpart — similarly abusive but with the additional bizarre, scary attribute of her eyes abruptly shifting side to side. Not surprising, the pair were quite friendly with each other.

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