Delaware school district, police investigating abuse allegations of special needs children

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Friday, February 23, 2024
Delaware school district, police investigating abuse allegations
Delaware school district, police investigating abuse allegations of special needs children

SMYRNA, Delaware (WPVI) -- Police in Smyrna, Delaware, are looking into allegations of abuse of nonverbal children with autism at an elementary school.

"The administration has failed us -- the teachers failed us, and if the school district doesn't right this wrong, they're failing us as well," said Leslie Thomas, whose son is 5 years old.

The Smyrna School District says reports of possible professional misconduct were made on Friday and they, in turn, contacted law enforcement to investigate.

"I can confirm that the district notified us on Friday about the alleged misconduct within one of their classrooms. We are investigating to determine if there is a criminal nature to any of the alleged conduct. Right now, we're still in the very preliminary stages, conducting interviews and trying to gather as much information as possible. We are working in conjunction with the Delaware DOJ and don't have much more to release right now until we get more facts," read a statement by Smyrna Police Lieutenant Brian Donner.

Delaware school district, police investigating abuse allegations

The allegations have the parents of the children both angry and heartbroken.

"For her not to be able to verbalize to me what's going on, as a parent, it's heart-wrenching," said mom Danielle Clarke.

Parents say they were notified Tuesday by the school principal about the situation.

"They just gave a vague statement stating that several of the staff members were out due to a criminal investigation," Thomas said.

Parents say once they followed up with law enforcement, they were able to learn more details about allegations and alleged abuse.

"We were told that staff members were locking our children in a dark bathroom, pulling their hair, throwing objects at them, forcefully placing them in time out," Thomas said.

As the investigation continues, parents are trying to figure out what's next for their children, who have since been pulled out of the school. They also have questions for the school district moving forward.

"Do you put cameras in there? Am I allowed to come in anytime to pop in on my child to see what's going on?" Clarke wondered aloud.

She also has a message for the teachers.

"How dare you? How dare you?" asked Clarke. "Every day, you're supposed to protect our children. I trusted you with my child and it's broken."