News and Tribune

Floyd County

July 21, 2009

ONE YEAR LATER: Family of S. Ellen Jones student works to find legal solution

Floyd County prosecutor said no crime was committed

One year later, the family of Gabriel Ross is still dealing with the aftermath caused when the child’s then kindergarten teacher at S. Ellen Jones Elementary was heard on tape calling him names, such as pathetic.

The story, which ended up on numerous national television shows, was first reported by The Tribune last year.

Ross’ family told The Tribune that after their then 5-year-old kept complaining about his teacher, Kristen Woodward, they decided to hide a small digital recorder in his cargo pants pocket.

On that recording, a woman can be heard calling Ross pathetic. A voice sounding the same as that one woman went on to tell Ross that she was “done” with him and that he’s been “ignorant, selfish, self-absorbed, the whole thing.”

He can be heard crying on the recording.

When a student comes to find out what’s wrong, that woman announces to the class the behavior problems Ross has and said, “if you want to act like him, then go ahead and be his friend ... So, you guys think, is that somebody you want to be with?”

The class answered in unison, “No.”

Carol Mooney, with the Indiana State Teachers Association, said then that Woodward admitted to losing her cool on that day and saying, “You’re being pathetic” to Ross. Mooney said since there are two women in the room, one being a teacher’s aide, it’s hard to tell who said what.

Woodward was suspended, according to an association advisory, after teaching for 13 years. She already had plans to move to Pennsylvania, according to a previous interview of Mooney. Woodward could not be found to comment.

Dave Rarick, director of safety and public information officer for New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp., said he couldn’t comment on this specific case, due to it being a personnel issue.

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