School investigation: Woman touched Piner-Olivet student's neck in 'bully' case
An investigation report released Thursday calls into question a Santa Rosa mother’s claim that a 12-year-old elementary school student fabricated a story about her attacking him in a dispute over bullying.
Piner-Olivet school officials said they hired a private investigator to look into the May 16 incident involving Delia Garcia-Bratcher, 30, who is alleged to have grabbed the boy’s throat in a campus confrontation.
The investigator, Chris Reynolds, found that despite her claims, Garcia-Bratcher did touch the boy’s neck, leaving four imprints that were later photographed by school officials.
The attack was witnessed by two students standing nearby, he said.
Reynolds found that another student who had said the boy injured himself was not credible. He said that witness had varying accounts of where and when the self-injury occurred and offered a description of the act that did not match the injuries.
Also, Reynolds found the witness was a “best friend” of Garcia-Bratcher’s son, casting doubt on his honesty.
“The student was not credible regarding where and how the alleged self-infliction took place or where the injuries were located on the neck,” according to a written statement from Superintendent Jennie Snyder.
Snyder did not provide a copy of the investigative report. The cost of the investigation was not disclosed.
She did not respond to requests to discuss the findings.
Garcia-Bratcher’s lawyer, Ben Adams, questioned the significance. He said there are always conflicting witness accounts of what happened.
“Nothing has changed,” Adams said. “We’re still going to vigorously dispute this case. If the D.A. wants to file charges, they should get on with it.”
Adams’ own investigation previously concluded the boy faked the injuries by grabbing himself and had falsely accused Garcia-Bratcher. He said his client talked to the boy about bullying one of her six children but never laid a hand on him.
The Santa Rosa attorney called Garcia-Bratcher a “folk hero” to other parents concerned about bullying. And he accused school officials of failing to protect students.
Prosecutors have twice asked for more time to investigate possible charges. A judge ordered both sides to return to court Aug. 28.
The case has received widespread media attention, attracting TV and print reporters at each hearing.
In his investigation, Reynolds interviewed more than 20 witnesses, including two of Garcia-Bratcher’s children.
He said no adults witnessed the incident, which he concluded was not a result of inadequate staffing. He also reviewed district policies on bullying and found no pervasive bullying problem at the school.
His report said the school has taken corrective actions to prevent unauthorized people from entering the campus.
You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or paul.payne@press?democrat.com. On Twitter ?@ppayne.
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