WASHINGTON (ABC7) — A DC elementary teacher was sexually assaulted on campus in the middle of a large room. The attack was caught on camera. In a twist, the charter school the teacher worked for switched her to unpaid leave for the rest of the school year.
It was the “Muffins For Moms” event, May 23, 2018 at Achievement Prep Academy public charter elementary school in Southeast Washington. On school surveillance video, teacher Page Garbee can be seen posing for a snapshot with one of her student's mothers and a guest of that parent. Seconds later, that female guest slapped Garbee.
“All of a sudden, I felt someone smacking my behind. I stood up, bewildered, looked over and I put out my hands. I'm not sure what I said. ‘No. Stop.’ But it was a moment of shock for me. Then, all of a sudden, there was a hand reaching underneath my skirt. As the woman said, I want to finger your [redacted]. Again, I started backing away. I said ‘no.’ And then she made sort of a lunging motion at me and grabbed my breasts,” recalled Garbee.
It took weeks for DC police to find and arrest the woman who sexually assaulted Garbee: 29-year-old Andrea Shantora Brown. Garbee says she wanted to return to work, as long as Achievement Prep, or "APA," could increase school safety patrols.
“What I tried to communicate with APA was, ‘I'm OK to return but I need something until an arrest is made. My safety and well-being has been threatened and I don't feel safe.’”
When Garbee was asked what happened after she brought those concerns to APA management, she responded, “All of a sudden, automated messages from the HR system just started entering: unpaid day, unpaid day, unpaid day.”
Garbee's doctor said the teacher should take a mental health leave. She believed the school would offer her paid administrative leave, but the school switched her to unpaid medical leave.
Garbee says unpaid leave was against her wishes, and after being physically victimized at work, felt financially victimized too.
Her employer did not pay what she estimated as $3,200 she counted on for the final three weeks of the school year. Her final pay stub shows that.
“It was very hard for me. I never said goodbye to my kids. I've had some of these kids for three years. It's really hard for me that I just disappeared from their lives,” said Garbee.
Achievement Prep declined an interview but tells 7 On Your Side it fully cooperated with police, including handing over the surveillance video showing the assault.
In a statement, the school added:
“Achievement Prep regrets that Ms. Garbee experienced such an offense on one of our campuses. None of us could have ever anticipated that an event that she herself so gracefully planned and led to honor the “moms” of our scholars, would end the way it did. We truly hope Ms. Garbee continues to heal and receive the support she needs. Our goal is not to add to any stress or cause any additional stressors for Ms. Garbee.“
The woman who assaulted Garbee, Andrea Brown, pleaded guilty to sexual assault. Her attorney said Brown was on PCP, marijuana and alcohol during the assault inside the school. Brown was sentenced to 30 days jail and drug treatment.
Garbee exited the teaching profession and entered law school.