Teacher of the year on leave after posting video of child with autism crying online

PAULINA — A mother is outraged after discovering a Paulina Elementary teacher posted a video involving her son, a child with autism, to Snapchat. That teacher was recently named teacher of the year and is now on leave and under investigation per the school board.

“Anger, hurt, and embarrassment”

Brittny Hayes tells Unfiltered with Kiran that her 7-year-old son’s teacher, Jenny Poche, recorded a video of her son having a temper tantrum in class and posted it on her private Snapchat on Dec. 6, 2023.

The video shows Poche expressing frustration as her student with autism is visibly upset and expressive in his chair.

“A friend of mine called me because she had it posted on her Snapchat,” Hayes recalled. “I felt nothing but anger, hurt, and embarrassment that somebody who I trust my son with every day would try to embarrass him like that on social media and make fun of his disability.”

According to the St. James School District, Poche has taught for 23 years. She was named Paulina Elementary’s Teacher of the Year in November.

Investigation into teacher of the year’s conduct

Hayes said she showed the video to the principal, and her son was moved to another class while an investigation was conducted. But Hayes said change is hard for her son.

“I was not okay,” she said. “You can’t put an autistic kid with totally different faces and teacher. He doesn’t do well with change.”

The mother said her son’s SPED teacher FaceTimed her husband to show them that their son was visibly upset in class. Hayes said her son’s tantrums were related to being overwhelmed during tests.

teacher child autism crying

Hayes said the school removed Poche from the class. According to the St. James Parish School Board, the teacher accused of posting the video of the child with autism to Snapchat, has since been placed on administrative leave.

“I don’t think she should teach other people’s kids”

UWK asked Hayes what she would tell Poche if she could. “I would tell her that she had been teaching for 20 years, and out of all the people there, I would think you would be a leader and help my child who is having a breakdown in a time of distress,” Hayes said. “I don’t think she should teach other people’s kids if that is how she handles a rough day.”

Hayes said her message for other parents is to follow your instincts.

“Don’t let the school think you’re being dramatic,” she said. “As a mom, follow your instincts. Constantly question and look into it and stay on top of it. They’re not doing right by these special needs kids. It’s important to stand up for your children.”

“Deep and thorough investigation

St. James Parish Schools sent a statement Tuesday afternoon.

St. James Parish Schools has been notified of an on-campus incident by a school employee and the possible unauthorized dissemination of in-class student activities. The St. James Parish School District, inclusive of the St. James Parish School Board, works to ensure the safety and well-being of all of its students and remains appreciative of the hard work and dedication of our many teachers and support staff. Our system has initiated a deep and thorough investigation. The employee in question has been placed on administrative leave during the pendency of this matter, and no further comment will be issued.

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