EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSALLEGED TEACHER ABUSE
from Eyewitness News Online
Grandmother Wants Justice For Autistic Grandson Allegedly Abused By Teacher
Reported by: Kallie Cart
Videographer: John Tincher
Web Producer: Kallie Cart
Reported: Oct. 24, 2012 9:23 PM EDT
Updated: Oct. 24, 2012 10:27 PM EDT
Mingo , Mingo County , West Virginia
A grandmother is speaking out, hoping to find justice for her grandson who has special needs. Investigators say he was abused at the hands of a woman who was supposed to care for him -- his aid in school. That is is facing criminal charges but she's not the only school employee in trouble in Mingo County.
Peggy Meade says her 9-year-old grandson Edward has autism and other handicaps which make it very difficult for him to communicate. But Meade says she knew something was wrong last school year when he started coming home from Birch Elementary School in Mingo County upset.
"He would just come home so sad," Meade says.
Peggy says she pressed the school for answers but got nothing, then one day, Edward came home trying to tell her something.
"He made a statement to me that made no sense to me whatsoever, he said, 'mawmaw, Ms. Donna me feet," Meade says.
Later that night, Meade says she discovered a large bruise on Edward's ear. The bruise prompted an investigation by the Department of Health and Human Resources into Edward's school aid, Donna Hurst.
According to the DHHR investigation, the aid was upset about being moved from a kindergarten classroom to a special needs assignment. On the day Edward received the bruise, witnesses say Hurst was cursing, telling another teacher that Edward needed a spanking. Then, the report says, as Edward was on the floor with other students, Hurst allegedly grabbed Edward by his feet and dragged him across the classroom, over the other students' shoes, causing that bruise. Investigators say witness say Hurst then jerked Edward down the hall by his wrist while yelling at him. The DHHR concluded Hurst had committed child abuse, a conclusion Meade says she found out about after getting a letter in the mail.
"I had no idea that my child had suffered so severely," Meade says, who is Edward's legal guardian.
Hurst is now facing a misdemeanor battery charge in Mingo County. Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks says child abuse is a difficult charge to prove and the case didn't meet the burden of proof so they charged Hurst with battery.
But Hurst is not the only teacher set to be tried criminally. A special needs teacher from Riverside Elementary is facing two counts of felony child abuse. DHHR investigators say Tina Grace spanked a special needs boy while pulling up his diaper and would withhold food from him. Grace is also accused of forcing a special needs student to stand on a "turtle," a semi-circle used for therapy, as punishment for more than an hour. Concerns about that type of punishment were brought to the Superintendent's attention in 2009 according to an e-mail filed in the teacher's criminal file. The Superintendent responded with an e-mail directing the teacher not to do it again.
A third teacher and coach, James Keatley, is facing misdemeanor sexual abuse charges of middle schoolers at Matewan Middle School.
Meade says she hopes these cases won't fall through the cracks.
"I just hope that when it does go to court there will be justice done," Meade says.
The superintendent was out of the office and not available to answer questions. We also made calls to the attorneys for the teachers, and never heard back.
All three teachers are set to go on trial, separately, on Monday.
MORE NEWS FROM EYEWITNESS NEWS
2012 NEWS: JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN | JUL | AUG | SEP | OCT | NOV | DEC
Home | Eyewitness News Newsroom | Storm Team Weather | Eyewitness Sports | Schedules
Send email to email@example.com for information or comments concerning WCHS-TV Eyewitness News.
Copyright ©2013, WCHS-TV8. Portions are
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.