MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced his office has filed new claims against a Berkeley County school principal, the deputy superintendent and the Berkeley County Board of Education.
The move stems from alleged verbal abuse involving six year-old Adri Pack, a non-verbal student with special needs at Berkeley Heights Elementary School in Martinsburg.
Adri’s mother, Amber Pack, placed a recording device in her daughter’s hair before sending her to school last October. She became suspicious after noticing behavior changes and marks on Adri’s body, Attorney Ben Salango previously told MetroNews affiliate WEPM.
Morrisey originally filed a motion in Berkeley County Circuit Court in February to enforce West Virginia’s Human Rights Act.
Morrisey’s amendment, announced Tuesday in front of the Berkeley County Judicial Center, alleges Berkeley Heights Principal Amber Boeckmann and Berkeley County Deputy Superintendent Margaret F. Kursey “actively tried to hinder the investigation and obscure evidence with a flawed investigation”. Also named are employees June Yurish, Kristin Douty and Christina Lester.
“Our amended complaint alleges that Amber Boeckmann, the principal, was asked to investigate this matter and report her findings to the board office,” said Morrisey. “That report was very ineffective. In our investigation, we have reason to believe that Deputy Superintendent Kursey instructed Amber Boeckmann to have Ms. Pack destroy the October 5 tape.”
It also adds the Berkeley County Board of Education as an additional defendant, saying members should be held responsible for the alleged actions.
“We allege that at least five people did not comply with the state’s mandatory reporting laws. Through that process, that interfered with the childrens’ ability to enjoy their civil rights. We believed it was appropriate to add the Berkeley County Board (of Education) as a defender…as the employer.”
In addition, Morrisey said his office has submitted a referral letter to the Berkeley County Prosecutor’s Office to identify those who Morrisey’s office believe “violated provisions of West Virginia law”.
“These are misdemeanor charges that if they were brought by the prosecutor, would obviously be very problematic. Ultimately though, those decisions rest in the hands of the local prosecutor.”
Berkeley County Prosecutor Catie Wilkes Delligatti insisted that all named are innocent until proven guilty.
“My office is dedicated to protecting the health and safety of children. As well know the court system can take some time, so I’d ask for the community’s patience in ensuring that we thoroughly review this and use whatever is available to our office to ensure justice.”
Morrisey was asked Tuesday about former Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny Arvon, whose retirement was approved in March.
“Well, I can tell that there were efforts to sit down with the former superintendent. They were unsuccessful and so we are not going to talk further about that.”
Morrisey also said Tuesday that since the Pack story first broke in November, his office has received calls from elsewhere in West Virginia alleging abuse in schools. Morrisey said his office will investigate those cases as well.