Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ohio - Verbal, emotional abuse case leads to teacher discipline at Miami Trace

Blog authors note:
Why are teachers and other "authorities" given lesser legal problems than parents or family member accused of the same type of abuse allegations or even lesser allegations? Why are they allowed to treat children poorly and basically only get a slap on the wrist? Why aren't they charged with child abuse? Are their crimes any less simply because they are not a family member? Is the child any less hurt or abused?

OCM News Service

FAYETTE COUNTY — The verbal and emotional abuse of a Miami Trace Middle School special education child has resulted in the discipline of a middle school teacher, the resignation of a teacher’s aide, and a $300,000 settlement with the child’s guardians.

On April 28, one of the child’s guardians alerted Miami Trace to the verbal abuse of the girl and following an investigation by the district, an audio tape of the abuse was presented to district officials by Children’s Services.

“The audio tapes were not the idea of Children’s Services, but the tapes proved that inappropriate comments had been made over a period of four days,” said Miami Trace Superintendent Dan Roberts.

According to court records, Christie Wilt is the teacher who was disciplined by both the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Professional Conduct and Miami Trace Local Schools. Kelly Chaffin is the teacher’s aide who resigned.

Roberts characterized the comments made by the Chaffin as “emotional mistreatment.”

“After hearing the tapes, we acted immediately and gave the teacher’s aide a copy of the tape to share with her attorney,” said Roberts. “She resigned immediately.”

The student was immediately removed from the classroom and transferred to another. She is still a student at Miami Trace.

As for Wilt, there was originally uncertainty as to whether she participated in the emotional abuse.

“We immediately contacted the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Professional Conduct and submitted a full report that their office received on May 5,” said Roberts. “It took the State Department of Education five full months to render a decision.”

The decision was to suspend Wilt’s teaching license for a year, however, that punishment will not occur if Wilt can complete a number of stipulations this school year.

“We will abide by all stipulations in order for her to keep her license,” said Roberts.

The ODE found that Wilt was guilty of some emotional abuse, mainly due to the fact that she allowed her teacher’s aide to verbally abuse the student.

“We would love to let the citizens know the whole story but because the parents signed a waiver that does not allow them to talk about it, we can’t,” said Roberts.

The complaint was also taken to the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office and presented to the Fayette County Prosecutor’s Office. It was determined that there was no basis for criminal charges and there was no physical abuse.

Roberts added that the guardians originally requested a $1 million settlement. Recently, the $300,000 agreement was settled on, according to Roberts.

“Miami Trace does have insurance coverage for matters like this, but the taxpayers will bear some of that burden,” he said. “Our mission is always to protect and educate our children. Anytime that mission is not achieved, we are extremely disappointed. Anytime something like this happens, we have to identify that issue and correct it…that is what we did. Mistakes have been made, discipline imposed, and we move forward. We’re regretful but we’re very much committed to this not happening again.”

All Miami Trace teachers are required to undergo five hours of training related to spotting signs of child abuse, verbal or physical, and being cautious about what they say to children.


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