"The teacher was grading papers, it was a substitute that day and something happened, and something got said and all of the sudden the entire situation got out of control," said concerned mother Tammy Miller.
That's what Miller says her 11-year-old daughter told her on the phone just minutes after the alleged incident broke out in her Fifth grade classroom. Highland Joint School District Superintendent Cindy Orr said she's unable to share with KLEW News exactly what happened behind closed doors that morning, only that the incident remains under investigation and that up until that point everything had been normal.
"A parent came in, he signed in, he came into the office and said, 'I'm here to see my son in his classroom.' We have a policy that states that parents and community members are welcome in our classrooms as long as they don't cause a commotion," said Orr.
According to Miller a word more suitable for what had allegedly happened that day was unbelievable.
"Several of the children had been kicked because the father kept tripping them as they would go past," said Miller. "I was also informed that one of the boys was smacked in the face and one of the boys was actually choked. MY daughter said that when the boy was choked and released his face was purple."
KLEW News spoke with the grandmother who takes care of the boy that was allegedly choked. Jerry Peery tells us that her 10-year-old grandson told her the man became agitated and used profanity calling him a name and then began badgering other children in the class, which eventually led to the man putting the boy in a chokehold and dragging him to his desk. Peery said that the teacher in the classroom did nothing for nearly 30 minutes while the man created a disturbance, before a girl in the class left to go tell the office about what was happening and that's when Orr came in and asked the man to leave. Peery says police were not contacted by the school, but by upset parents.
"What happened in the classroom is part of the investigation, but when I was alerted there was an issue, he met me in the hall, told me what happened and left with his son after checking out," said Orr.
As the Lewis County Sheriff's Office and the Lewis County Prosecutor's Department continue to investigate the issue, their attention also turns to the safety of the children.
"What's important to me is the safety of the schools, the safety of the children and the staff," said Lewis County Sheriff's Department Brian Brokop. "Once any incident is reported to my office we respond immediately and appropriately and we take every incident very seriously."
Orr said the district is already looking into the possibility of placing locks on each of the doors throughout the building and prohibiting hours of visitation.
Peery tells us she is upset that she had to learn about the incident from her grandson only after he came home from school and was not contacted by the school.
She said, "The school was in the wrong. They should have called police immediately and the parents."
Superintendent Cindy Orr told us that she spent the entire day on Monday until late contacting parents as best she could in between dealing with the investigation there at school and dealing with the situation. Orr said that the school contacted parents on Tuesday morning to inform them that the man had been taken into custody on the unrelated charges. And she said that all parents of the school were contacted on Wednesday