School intruder: The former Alief ISD teacher who was attacked during an attempted student kidnapping at Best Elementary School demands a change

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) – A former Alief ISD teacher said both the district and the city of Houston are not doing enough to protect the safety of students and staff at one of their elementary schools.

“My life completely changed because I started getting really stressed,” Marie Cortes said after the events of a 30-minute break at Best Elementary School, which still haunts her.

Cortes said a strange woman went to the playground and tried to take a child.

“She said it was her daughter and I said, ‘Ma’am, you need to check in at the front desk if this is your child. You have to check in. I can’t let her go,'” Cortes said. “And then she got angry. She began to pull the student. I immediately put my arm between her and the student. I said, ‘Ma’am, you need to go to the front office. You can’t take my student with you and you have to stop pushing her and pulling her.’ And she slapped my arm and then when I took my phone to call the principal and get help, she immediately slapped my other hand. My phone fell on the concrete and broke.”

Cortes said another employee witnessed the intruder and the attack and stepped in to save the student.

As the students were brought inside, the same intruder approached another child, who Cortes said was out of sight.

The 7-year-old told ABC13 she was grabbed by the wrist. She said the woman said things about having food ready in a car and threatened to take the girl’s necklace.

Fortunately, another employee witnessed this and took the child away.

This attack happened in December 2021.

The mother of the first grader said her daughter is still having emotional breakdowns over the incident.

“The lady at the school just said, ‘I’m sorry,’ and that was it,” Thelma Del Angel said.

Del Angel said she wants Best Elementary and Alief ISD to take action.

She said the playground at the school was unsecured. There is a chain link fence that does not encircle the entire play area and where it is present it has been broken.

Cortes said that after she was attacked by the intruder, she asked to have the fence fixed but received no response from the school or the district.

“Nothing was done and the stress level of many employees has increased. The security forces also feel unsafe,” Cortes said.

It prompted her to step down and is now fighting for a new fence after Del Angel said another intruder walked across the playground last week.

Alief ISD sent ABC13 the following statement:

On December 14, 2021, county officials were alerted to an incident at recess where a person entered the area and two students were approached by an elderly thin, black-haired Hispanic woman who is believed to be mentally impaired. Best Elementary staff responded immediately, calling 911 to report the incident and the campus was placed on hold while Alief Police conducted an investigation. In response to the incident, break time was moved indoors for the remainder of the week. In addition, the school has been assigned an additional patrolman from the Alief Police Department who will remain indefinitely. On December 14, parents were informed of the incident as well as the changes to the break. No other incidents were reported. The district has been in contact with City Councilman Edward Pollard for several years to address safety concerns surrounding Best Elementary. We look forward to the city implementing further support for children and families in the region.

The school is located near Bissonnet near US 59 in Pollards District J.

ABC13 requested a response from Pollard’s office Monday night but have yet to receive a response.

Cortes said she plans to address the serious issue with Pollard and the full council during Tuesday’s city council meeting. Del Angel said she plans to attend in support.

“I’m just here to ask and plead for the fence and the protection of the children here,” Cortes said.

To learn more about this story, follow Shelley Childers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All rights reserved. School intruder: The former Alief ISD teacher who was attacked during an attempted student kidnapping at Best Elementary School demands a change

Dais Johnston

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