Former Cy-Fair ISD teacher pleads guilty after 5-year-old boy with special needs dragged by ankle over 100 feet

Child reportedly suffered from carpet burns

HOUSTON – A former Cy-Fair Independent School District teacher has pleaded guilty to injuring a kindergarten student with special needs after reportedly dragging him by his ankle down the school’s hallways in September of 2022, according to court documents.

Amber Hall was charged with injury to a child from the incident at Tipps Elementary School.

What happened

On Sept. 6, 2022, a 5-year-old boy, enrolled in an Early Childhood Special Education class, was in the school gymnasium when he became upset and left the gym after he opted not to participate in a game other students were playing, charging documents read.

Hall reportedly followed the boy and found him lying on the floor, kicking, screaming and cursing. She grabbed him by the ankles and pulled him on his back down the hallways, documents read.

Surveillance video showed Hall dragging the child by the ankles on tiled and carpet floorings until she reached the Life Skills Classroom where she was seen knocking on the teacher’s door. That teacher came out of her classroom and picked up the child by his underarm area.


According to charging documents, the video showed the child was dragged approximately 143.5 feet.

Extent of injuries

Records show the 5-year-old boy was seen by a school nurse the same day he was dragged. The nurse documented abrasion injuries to his bottom left shoulder blade area that were consistent with carpet burns. The boy was later seen by medical personnel at Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital, who also documented the injuries as carpet burns that hurt to the touch.

The child’s mother, Nicole Graves, also employed as a third-grade math teacher at Tipps Elementary, said when she picked her son up from school, he told her not to touch his back because the teacher “broke his back.” When she asked what happened, he told her, “Teacher grabbed my foot.”

Graves said she didn’t understand until she watched the surveillance video.

“I’m right here in the building and I’m not protecting him from something like this,” Graves said.

Suspect pleads guilty

On Sept. 13, Hall met with investigators at the Cy-Fair Police Department. She reportedly told them that she was not CPI (Crisis Prevention Institute) trained on how to appropriately address situations that call for physical contact with a student and was looking for someone CPI trained to assist her, and that is why she was dragging the child down the hallways.

On Aug. 2, Hall pled guilty to injury to a child, a 3rd-degree felony, and waived the right of trial by jury. The prosecutor will recommend her punishment.

Child’s mother fired after other incidents at school

Graves said she’s just now speaking to KPRC 2 reporter Rilwan Balogun about the incident to help parents be more aware of what’s happening at schools. She’s been employed at Cy-Fair ISD for 10 years until last year when she said she was fired from Tipps Elementary.

Graves, a mother of two, said she was aware of her son’s struggle with his behavior as he has a history of running away, being overwhelmed, and having tantrums. She said he has a speech impairment and struggles to communicate, which contributes to his actions.

The school had a behavior plan for Grave’s son and told her not to “intervene” when handling his tantrums.

On the day of the incident, Graves said she didn’t have details on what happened to her son and was told by the school that he was “mishandled” and it would be taken care of. It wasn’t until she got home that she saw her son’s injuries.

She said the incident was investigated quickly by the district, law enforcement and CPS and then handed to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office where charges were filed.

Although upset, Graves said Hall was placed in a classroom and unequipped with the proper training to handle students like her son.

“To be honest, as angry as I am about what happened to my son, I feel sorry for her too because she was not trained,” Graves said. “She didn’t know how to handle students in my son’s shoes.”

After the September incident, she said her son was involved in dozens of other incidents with school employees.

According to Graves, the child was restrained at least 40 times and even witnessed one of the incidents in December 2022 -- which involved the assistant principal. She said her son was on the floor, kicking and his foot made contact with the assistant principal.

The assistant principal reportedly grabbed him by his ankles, pulled him towards her, lifted him up and eventually put her knee in his back, according to Graves.

She said her son eventually vomited in the classroom from the incident as she tried to calm him down.

In May 2023, Graves said there was another incident with employees restraining her son and when she tried to interact and get to him, she said the principal blocked her.

During this incident, the district reported that Graves threatened the principal, stating that she pushed and grabbed the principal and told them “We can fight.”

Graves denied the allegations.

She said she did not touch anyone and was blocked by the principal from getting to her son. Graves reportedly told the principal “I will fight if I have to” but touched no one as she was being blocked access to her child. She eventually got to her son, calmed him down and let him cry.

Graves said she was informed the incident was under investigation but had no inkling that she would be fired until the end of the school year.

Graves said her children had to leave Tipps Elementary as she could no longer be near the campus.

When KPRC 2′s Rilwan Balogun reached out to Cy-Fair ISD for comment they shared the employment history of both Hall and Graves.

“Amber Nikea Hall was employed as a paraprofessional in CFISD beginning August 8, 2022. She was placed on administrative leave on September 6, 2022, and investigated for an allegation of inappropriate physical mistreatment of a student. She resigned effective September 21, 2022,” the district spokesperson said. “Nicole Graves resigned effective December 10, 2023.”

Graves denies resigning from the district.

Responding to Balogun’s text, she sent a copy of her termination letter:

“... the Board voted to terminate your employment with the District effective immediately,” the December 2023 letter reads. “Regardless of your decision to appeal, your paid administrative leave ends as of today.”

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