UPDATE: 7:45 p.m. MAY 7, 2019
The Mercer County Board of Education held a meeting Tuesday, May 7, 2019, to address a recent lawsuit claiming mistreatment of pre-school children. The meeting went into executive session before Superintendent Dr. Deborah Akers made a statement denying all allegations against them.
“We take allegations of child abuse seriously and have policies in place to turn these allegations immediately over to the proper authorities of investigation,” Akers said. “Regarding the complaint involving Cumberland Heights Early Learning Center, the Mercer County BOE and I deny all of the allegations in these cases and look forward to the true revelation of these facts.”
Akers confirmed that Alma Belcher is currently not working at the school. Stay with 59 News for more updates on this story.
ORIGINAL STORY: A lawsuit was filed against the Mercer County Board of Education on Thursday, May 2, 2019. The defendants also include a teacher and the principal at Cumberland Heights Early Learning Center, as well as Mercer County Schools Superintendent Deborah Akers.
According to the complaint, a teacher’s aide reported abuse and negligence against students between Thanksgiving 2018 and January 2019. The plaintiff, Amanda Shrewsbury, went on to say Cumberland Heights teacher Alma Belcher attacked her while she was trying to defend a student. Shrewsbury also alleged she lost her position as a result of blowing the whistle on Belcher for instances of abuse in the classroom.
Two other suits were filed by the parents of children in Belcher’s classroom. These included negligence, assault and battery and violations of the constitutional right to an efficient education free of bullying, harassment and abuse.
The allegations involve a three-year-old special needs child. According to the suit, the abusive misconduct included gluing the child’s hands together, arm and hair pulling and repeated placement in a restraint chair. Other assault and constitutional violation charges involved a five-year-old child.
The suits were filed under Judges Swope, Sadler and Wills. The plaintiffs are being represented by Akers Law Offices in Charleston.