Tag Archives: Special Needs

FL School District Covered Abuse Of Special Needs Child Over A Year

.jpg photo of Father and his Son who was abused
Eddie Perillo and his Son

School district addresses Child Abuse claims
in special news conference

OKALOOSA COUNTY, FL  –  Allegations of an Okaloosa County special needs teacher abusing a nonverbal child with autism has rocked the county.

On Monday, the school board will hold its regular meeting less than an hour after the superintendent holds a press conference.

The father of the child who was allegedly abused believes the school district tried to cover up signs of abuse.

Others in the community said it’s time for more oversight.

The saga began in 2015 at Kenwood Elementary School, when Eddie Perillo’s nonverbal autistic son moved into the classroom of Marlynn Stillions.

Eddie’s son spent more than a year in the teacher’s classroom.  At the same time, Eddie noticed changes to his son’s behavior.

“He became aggressive and he had aggressive behavior and just was acting a little different,” Perillo said.

It took until May of 2017 when Perillo was able to obtain a copy of a school district investigation, which accused Stillions of abusing the children in her care, for Perillo to learn about the alleged abuse.

He took the case to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office and believes it goes all the way to the superintendent’s office.

“I believe she knew about it.  To be honest with you, that’s my thoughts on everything. and if she didn’t, which is very hard to believe, she definitely should’ve been aware of it and taken action,” Perillo said.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office investigated the claims and made three arrests, including the teacher, the principal of Kenwood Elementary and the school district’s investigator.

Other members of the autism community, like Angela Hager in Okaloosa County, said it’s a crossroad for the district.

Her autistic son spent almost two decades in Okaloosa County schools.

“I was shocked and very disturbed that not only those events happening, that there were so many witnesses that had seen these things happen and did not come forward until there was an employee intervention being conducted,” Hager said.

She’s on the agenda to speak at Monday night’s meeting.

“I think that there are things that can be done to fix this.  That’s what I want to see.  It’s not that I’ve lost all faith, it’s just that there are deficiencies that need to be addressed,” Hager said.

FL Women Abuse Special Needs Child

.jpg photo of women accused of abuse of special needs child
Kaderrica Smith, 26 (left), and Alexus Henderson, 19

Day care workers charged after Snapchat video shows taunting, abuse of autistic child

WINTER HAVEN, FL  –  Two child care workers have turned themselves into police after investigators said they were suspected of berating a child with autism in an incident recorded on video, reports CBS affiliate WTSP.

In the video, which was first posted to the social media platform Snapchat, two women who police believe are 26-year-old Kadericca Smith and 19-year-old Alexis Henderson can be seen laughing at the 8-year-old boy inside Our Children’s Academy, in Winter Haven, Florida.

“Chicken, chicken, chicken,” one woman can be heard saying, as the boy comes out from hiding under a desk.

Later, one of the women is seen holding the boy’s arms before apparently swiping his legs from under him.

Police were first made aware of this on Sept. 1 and say in an initial interview, both women “felt they were acting appropriately” and did nothing wrong.  At the time, police hadn’t pressed charges because the Florida Department of Children and Families was still investigating.

Warrants were later issued for the women’s arrest, and they reportedly turned themselves in Friday.

Henderson is charged with child neglect and Smith faces charges of child abuse and battery.  Henderson received bond after being booked into jail, but Smith is being held with bond.

Smith faces charges of child abuse and battery.

Police say the school immediately fired the two women following the incident.  Both also had blocks placed on their certifications so they cannot be employed by other childcare facilities.

The 8-year-old did not require medical attention.

TX Teacher Charged With Biting Special Needs Student

.jpg photo of teacher accused of abusing special needs child
Kirsten Barnett, 25

Abilene teacher accused of biting student resigns

ABILENE, TX  –  An Abilene preschool teacher accused of biting a 4-year-old autistic student has resigned, the Abilene Independent School District said in a statement Wednesday.

Kirsten Barnett, 25, is charged with injury to a child, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

She was arrested and released from the Taylor County Jail on Tuesday on a $5,000 bond, according to jail records.

The school district placed Barnett on paid administrative leave Feb. 2, said Philip Ashby, AISD spokesman, in an email.  She remained on paid leave until she resigned April 7.

Barnett allegedly bit the 4-year-old student Feb. 1, while trying to move the student from the sand where the child was playing to the math area, according to court documents.

The student did not want to go and dropped to the floor, where Barnett reportedly pulled the child onto her lap and placed him in a restraining hold, court documents state.

The child began to squirm and push against Barnett, and then she bent down and bit the student on his cheek by his ear, according to court documents.  The child then yelled out.

A teacher’s aide who said she saw what happened saw the bite mark on the student’s face, court documents state.

Barnett worked at the Locust Early Childhood Center, according to a staff directory, until she resigned.

“When the allegations first came to the school’s attention, administrators acted swiftly to report the incident to the Abilene Police Department.  The teacher was immediately placed on leave during the course of the police investigation and has not returned to the classroom or interacted with students again,” the district said in a statement.  “The safety of our students is our top priority, and we are grateful for the immediate reporting by witnesses and for the cooperation from the Abilene Police Department.”

AIDES CHARGED WITH “CHILD ABUSE”

Two Teacher Aides Charged In Antioch Classroom Child Abuse

Police Officers ask DA for felony Child Abuse charge for attack on Special Needs Child

San Francisco, California  –  Two teacher’s aides at an Antioch school for special-needs students have been charged with misdemeanors after a shocking video surfaced on social media last week that appeared to show one of them hitting a child in the face, fighting with him and tackling him to the ground.

Kamaljot Kaur, 26, was charged with misdemeanor child abuse, and another aide, 22-year-old Chad Corbin, was charged with failing to report an incident of child abuse as a mandatory reporter, according to Bruce Flynn, a Contra Costa County senior deputy district attorney.

School officials at Tobinworld II, the campus where the incident took place, said in a statement last week that the staff members involved had been suspended.  A school administrator told The Chronicle on Wednesday that they had been fired.

Although the Antioch Police Department initially asked the district attorney’s office to bring a felony child abuse charge against Kaur, prosecutors opted for the misdemeanor counts after concluding the incident did not appear likely to cause great bodily injury, which is required for child abuse to be classified as a felony.

Speaking Up For Special Needs

.jpg photo of legislation to protect special needs children
Special Needs Children Should Be Protected

Bill urges new rules for investigating abuse of children with disabilities

MADISON, Wisconsin  –  Three state lawmakers are seeking support for a bill that would require the state to adopt certain protocols for investigating allegations of abuse and neglect when victims are children with disabilities.

The urged change to state law comes after a FOX6 investigation found children with disabilities in Wisconsin are dying, despite repeated calls to child protective service agencies.  In the last five years, 15 disabled children have died and nine others have been egregiously injured.

“These are children.  Their lives matter,” said Rep. LaTonya Johnson (D- Milwaukee), who is co-sponsoring this new legislation.  “15 kids losing their lives over five years.  If that was a result of a toy, we would be talking about a major recall.”

In some cases, FOX6 found investigations were closed because the child couldn’t effectively communicate with people investigating the allegations.

“Kids with autism, kids with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities will have a hard time explaining what happened to them. Sometimes they have very little speech,” explained Lisa Pugh with Disability Rights Wisconsin.

In this memo, circulated Monday, January 4th Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc), Rep. Johnson, and Senator Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) wrote “investigating claims of abuse and neglect of children with disabilities can present challenges for (child protective services) authorities if the child is non-verbal or communicates in an unfamiliar way, such as using symbols or signs to express themselves.”

The law, if passed, would require the Department of Children and Families to develop a model procedure to be used when investigating suspected child abuse or neglect of children with disabilities.  That procedure would have to be drafted and implemented by January 1st, 2017.  It would include making sure investigators use interviewing strategies that are tailored to the needs of children with disabilities.  Currently, DCF says there is no special protocol for investigating cases involving disabled victims.
If the bill is passed, local agencies could adopt the model policy, or develop their own policy.

Investigators would be required to first determine whether a child has a disability and then take certain steps to figure out how to best communicate with that child.

The legislation would also require investigators to have special training to deal with these kinds of cases, and to collaborate with local law enforcement agencies.

Spokesperson for the Department of Children and Families, Joe Scialfa, says “DCF is currently in the process of reviewing the proposed legislation, having discussions with the bill’s author, and meeting with a variety of stakeholders in order to have a thoughtful and informed evaluation of the proposal.”