MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A West Tennessee nanny accused of putting large amounts of salt in the feeding tube of a disabled 8-year-old boy has been indicted on abuse and neglect charges.
Tiffany C. Johnson of Cordova was taken into custody Monday, Shelby County prosecutor Amy P. Weirich said in a statement. The statement says Johnson, 31, took the boy to the hospital multiple times last year. Doctors say his sodium level was elevated each time, but he recovered.
The boy, who is in a wheelchair and unable to care for himself, suffered from numerous ailments that resulted in more than six hospital visits in less than half a year, reports CBS affiliate WREG. Investigators said the boy only had episodes of the illness while in Johnson’s care and that he hasn’t had any incidents since Johnson left the nanny position in August.
A bond review hearing is set for her next week.
In another high-profile case involving alleged sodium poisoning, Lacey Spears of Scottsville, Ky., stands accused of killing her five-year-old son by forcing salt into a feeding tube in the boy’s stomach. The child died at a New York hospital.
ANDREWS, TX – More allegations of alleged abuse at the hands of a special needs teacher against the same children whose families we met two years ago in a similar situation. Christopher Wolfe and Haiyden Gregory were both classmates in the Devonian Elementary Special Needs class this school year.
Back in November, Lauren Gregory, Haiyden’s mom, was informed by a former aid, Lacie Stringfield, that incidents of alleged abuse were taking place, especially against Christopher Wolfe.
Something Lauren did not immediately believe. Lacie also informed Gregory that she had been fired after making complaints to the Devonian principal on three separate occasions.
“So, after that, I decided I would send another audio recording to make sure it was the truth, so I sent it the next day,” said Lauren Gregory.
And what Lauren says she heard on those recordings confirmed the aids allegations for her.
“They trashed Lacie the entire day in front of the children,” Gregory said. “During the audio, Mrs. Harmon is making fun of Christopher to Haiyden, but the biggest thing that upset me was Haiyden. He did have his diaper changed and he was fed, but the entire time, they did not talk to him. It’ll just hurt me because I trusted them.”
Both Haiyden and Christopher suffer from disabilities that do not allow them to verbalize as well as other children. Haiyden has Cerebral Palsy and Christopher has Downs Syndrome. Something these parents say once again made their kids easy targets.
Christopher’s grandmother, Joann Wolfe, was first notified of the allegations when Child Protective Services showed up at her home.
“I was told that they were investigating allegations of some physical abuse,” said Joann Wolfe. “And had I noticed anything? And thinking back initially I was shocked. And I didn’t even know the person that had made the initial complaint, but I’m very grateful that they did.”
Joann was later contacted by Lauren and told of the concerns the aid had in regards to Christopher’s well being in the class.“She said, Joann it happened and I was devastated,” Wolfe said. “I was very, because I believed her. Like I said, she was the one, there was another tape. There were witnesses to things that were happening. And I had not talked to her. I had not talked to her prior to that.”
The families were informed the teacher was placed on administrative leave, but Lauren said she had enough and pulled both Haiyden and her other child out of the school district. “I cannot trust AISD with my kids because this is the second time,” Gregory said.
Joann pulling Christopher out of school till changes were made. “We are finding resolution in the problem. The school system, AISD, Dr. Azam has been very helpful in addressing things,” Wolfe said. “Texas disability rights is involved because it was found in their internal investigation that his individual education plan had not been followed.”
We spoke to the Andrews ISD Superintendent, Bobby Azam, about the allegations. However, he was unable to confirm or deny if such incidents were being investigated at Devonian Elementary. But, new developments have come into play Friday in this saga. Just Friday afternoon, a petition was filed against Andrews ISD on behalf of the former aid, Lacey Stringfield.
NewsWest 9 obtained a copy of the request for the temporary injunction that lays out the allegations against the special needs teacher, Mrs. Kelly Harmon.
In it, Stringfield claims she was told by Mrs. Harmon at the start of the school year, that what happens in her classroom stays in the classroom and that “we do our own thing here.”
Stringfield also claims that during the second week of the school year, Mrs. Harmon informed her that the best way to motivate one of their students with Downs Syndrome was to use plastic spiders to scare him.
“CPS did acknowledge that as a tool to get him to do something that plastic spiders were put on him,” Wolfe said. “And he is deathly afraid of spiders. Another student was told to put a spider down his shirt and CPS acknowledged that yeah, that happened, but that’s not so bad, but I think it is.”
Other allegations include Mrs. Harmon informing the aid that the bus driver allegedly spanked a student because “that’s what he needs.”
After that incident, Stringfield alleges that she made her first outcry to the Principal of Devonian who informed her that she was aware of some of the practices. Then, in the Fall, Springfield claims she saw Mrs. Harmon drag a student across the floor causing rug burn only later to tell the child’s parents the burns were a result of the child running and falling.
Then, on November 20th of 2014, Mrs. Stringfield claims she was let go from Devonian and told she was not the right fit. This, after three days prior she had made her last outcry to the Principal. We contacted Lacie Stringfield’s lawyer about the lawsuit and allegations.
“I think there is more than enough evidence to conclude that she was terminated in retaliation for making those complains,” said Dan Ross of the Ross Law Group. “And I would like to say that Mrs. Stringfield is a very brave and courageous woman to come forward with this and that she is seeking to have this kind of activity cease and it’s not something that is an easy thing to do for anyone.”
Some of the requests of the temporary injunction are to make the classrooms more visible with cameras and half doors. Stringfield is also hoping to be reinstated into her position at Devonian Elementary.
Joann Wolfe tells us that CPS has not contacted her whether or not the investigation into alleged abuse against her grandson, Christopher has been completed. She is waiting to hear the outcome of their investigation.
We reached out to the teacher, Mrs. Harmon and did not receive a response. We also tried to speak to the Superintendent, Bobby Azam about the petition, but have yet to receive a response. We did reach out to the President of the AISD School Board before the petition was filed in regards to the situation. Dr. Pam Fisher said she could not comment, but that the Andrews School District puts their children first and cares very much about their safety and learning experience which is always a first priority.