MAGNOLIA, Texas -- A picture is worth a thousand words, but it’s the word featured prominently in a photograph that has parents in Magnolia upset.
The photograph was apparently taken next to a Magnolia Independent School District handicapped bus. The men captured in the photograph work for the school district, according to the district’s website.
The website identifies the men as Transportation Director Joe Dives and Assistant Director Kevin Kreitz. In between the men, the words “I’m retarded” can be seen etched in the bottom back window of the bus.
“I would expect something from a child. Children are just that way, but adults shouldn’t act like that, especially school administrators. They’re supposed to protect our children, not make fun of them,” said parent Lisa Choate.
Lisa Choate’s 11-year-old son is a special-education student in Magnolia. She said the photograph was leaked to one parent and spread quickly on Facebook.
“The school administrators need to think before they do things like that. Even though it’s a simple picture, parents with special-ed children take stuff like that very serious,” she added.
It’s unclear when the photograph was taken.
Magnolia Independent School District declined an interview for this story. The district would only release a written statement. It said, in part:
“Magnolia ISD is sensitive to the possible implications of the photograph and strives to promote a supportive and positive environment for students and employees.”
The statement went on to say that “appropriate action” would be taken following an “internal investigation.”
Neighbors of Kreitz, who lives in Magnolia, seemed split on the photograph. A next-door neighbor felt it was being “blown out of proportion.”
“Way out of proportion, he’s a nice guy, and he would not have done anything like that intentionally,” said neighbor Daniel Knowles.
Another neighbor said she’ll wait to pass judgment.
“I don’t know. Like I said, if that picture was just taken out of context or what. Who knows, but that’s not right if that’s why they’re laughing and smiling,” said neighbor Darlene Witt.
Kreitz declined to comment about the photograph. KHOU 11 News' efforts to get in contact with Dives were unsuccessful.