CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Allegations of mental and physical abuse of disabled students at Horace Mann Middle School have caused a public outcry and calls for more transparency directed at the Kanawha County School Board.
On Tuesday, demonstrators gathered outside of the Kanawha board of education building to speak for the students who they say can’t speak for themselves.
Allegations of the abuse came to light late last week.
“My grandson was pushed down twice and then dragged around by the collar of his shirt like a rag doll — the board of education doesn’t want to show these tapes,” said Linda Hill.
Hill hasn’t seen the tape of her autistic grandson being abused but says her daughter, the boy’s mother, has.
“My daughter broke down, the guardian of the other child broke down,” she said.
Rosetta Ramsey has seen the tape of her 15-year-old niece being abused after receiving a call from the Charleston Police Department and the principal of Horace Mann Middle.
Ramsey says it shows her niece being hit and grabbed by the neck.
“There is no excuse why they did it, she’s a special needs child, and from the video, she did absolutely nothing, Taryn was laying on a bean bag when she was smacked in her face 4-5 times in the face,” said Ramsey.
Despite demands from the public to release the tapes, the school board said in a statement to 13 News that they are “not at liberty to legally produce them publicly nor can they legally produce them to Mr. Salango and Mr. Cary for public dissemination.”
Attorney Michael Cary, who along with Ben Salango represents the families says they’re seeking a higher charge for the teacher and two aides from a misdemeanor to a felony.
“We’re going to take it to the legislature to make sure we can change these laws to where someone is always watching these videos especially in a special needs classroom,” said Cary.
The school board for their part says they’re reviewing the last 90 days of tape in the classroom.