MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has responded to abuse allegations at Berkeley Heights Elementary School by filing a human rights civil complaint.
The allegations stem from conduct caught on an audio recording device placed in six year-old Adri Pack’s hair by her mother, Amber. The device captured two teacher aides threatening Adri multiple times. MetroNews affiliate WEPM first reported on the incident on November 8 when Amber Pack submitted the recording.
Standing in front of the Berkeley County Courthouse Tuesday, Morrisey said the filing in Berkeley County Circuit Court will seek to enforce the state’s Human Rights Act by holding those accountable who abuse children with disabilities. Those accused would be prohibited from working in education or childcare in the State of West Virginia. It also seeks a $5,000 civil penalty for each violation.
“In bringing this action today, I seek to not only to protect these children, but also we want to deter future abuses that may occur in Berkeley County and across the State of West Virginia.”
The filing lists the names of three school employees who “violated the state’s Human Rights Act” in connection to the case; Christina Lester, June Yurish and Kristin Douty. It also details that they cannot have any contact with the students involved in the case or their family members. All three have since resigned from Berkeley County Schools.
“If there are credible allegations where a teacher or a teacher aide is inappropriately threatening someone under the statute, we will step in. We will take action and we will work to make sure you never teach in West Virginia again.”
Morrisey indicated as the investigation continues, more defendants could be added to the court order.
“Today we deal with issues pertaining to the teacher aides and the teacher, but our investigation continues. We reserve the right to add more defendants, both individuals and organizations, once our investigation is complete. We have to take this step-by-step and we do it on the basis of evidence.”
Morrisey added since the allegations reached the media, his office has received numerous calls in regard to the case. He encouraged anyone with a similar contact his office.
“We’re dealing with some of the most vulnerable kids in our society. I want to make sure that those families have choice. They don’t have to be in an environment that subjects them to abuse. I think the more choice, the more we can empower parents, that’s critical.”