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Another teacher from Portland's Lent K-8 School on leave amid abuse allegations

Portland Public Schools says Sylvia Chavarin, a fifth grade Spanish-immersion teacher at Lent K-8 School in Southeast Portland, is on leave and under investigation.

On the day district leaders held a meeting about a teacher accused of abuse at Lent K-8 School in Southeast Portland, Portland Public Schools (PPS) announced another teacher at the school was put on leave.

Parents also accuse that teacher of physical and verbal abuse.

Regarding the case, district officials would only say, "We received a report from a fifth grade student that was of concern. In response, the building principal and assistant principal talked to students to gain further information. Based on the preliminary outcome of those initial interviews, we are placing fifth grade teacher Sylvia Chavarin on leave until we have completed our investigation. "

Harry Esteve, a PPS spokesman, told KATU the district first learned about the allegations on Tuesday, a claim multiple parents deny. They told KATU complaints were first filed in October.

"She treats all the kids horrible," Elvia Martinez, the mother of one of Chavarin's students, said Thursday. "It's a great school. It's just the teachers they put in that school, some of 'em are not good."

Martinez said her family's been through a lot lately. Last year her father had a stroke and in April she said her 25-year-old sister passed away.

"She got a stroke just like my dad but my dad got through it," she explained.

Martinez said her sister's death was devastating for all three of her kids, who go to Lent, but especially for her son, who's in fifth grade.

"He loved my sister," she told a KATU reporter. "She was like his mom, second mom."

Martinez said her son is in a Spanish-immersion class because she doesn't want him to lose touch with his culture. But she said the teacher of the class, Chavarin, abuses her students.

"My son's friend had a ball and the teacher kicked the ball away from him and kicked him on his feet and grabbed him from here really hard," she said motioning to her shoulder. "It doesn't matter what color you are she treats all the kids bad. She snaps her fingers at them and tells them, 'Go sit down.' ... She grabs his papers, throws 'em at the ground and says, 'Pick 'em up,' and she grabs him from here (pointing to her arm) and tells him to go sit down at the table. ... She told him that he was not gonna get nowhere in life 'cause he wasn't doing his work at school. ... He wasn't doing his work at school because he didn't enjoy being in that class. That's why."

Martinez said one recent incident hurt the most.

"She told him that she didn't care that my sister passed away 'cause that day my son had bought a flower for my sister. It was (for) Mother's Day," she said. "The nursery, they take flowers to school and they sell 'em to the kids and the kids buy a flower."

Lent PTA members brought up concerns about the teacher at a meeting Wednesday focused on Sam Leach, another educator now on leave who's accused of abuse.

That night, the district put out a notice to parents about Chavarin.

Martinez said she didn't report her son's alleged abuse because of how administrators reacted to another parent.

"She reported it like in October," she said. "They didn't do anything about it. I'm like, 'Well, if I go they're not gonna do anything about it because of my skin color.'"

As KATU first reported on May 10, Leach, a former school climate coach at Lent, was previously disciplined over allegations he physically and emotionally abused children at a North Portland elementary school about five years ago but was still able to get multiple transfers and raises.

PPS would not confirm or deny Martinez's allegations or those of other parents KATU spoke with.

Chavarin did not immediately respond to multiple emails sent by a KATU reporter seeking comment.


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