Berkeley BOE: Abuse allegations “deeply troubling and unacceptable”

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – “Deeply troubling and unacceptable.” That’s how the Berkeley County Board of Education is characterizing the alleged actions former employees accused of abuse.

Facing mounting criticism over its handling of the case and the call for the ouster of the entire school board, Berkeley County Schools has been largely silent on the matter, until now.

Last fall, abuse allegations came to light alleged verbal and possible physical abuse was captured on a recording device sent to school with a special needs, non-verbal at Berkeley Heights Elementary School. The child’s mother, Amber Pack has said the school system did nothing in the weeks following the incident. She has since filed a civil suit that names the school board and several individuals.

On Friday, the Berkeley County Board of Education released a statement that characterized the alleged actions as “deeply troubling and unacceptable.” The Board goes on to “apologize for its former employees’ actions and any distress or harm they may have caused.”

The release emphasizes that the classroom teacher, Christina Lester and the two teacher’s aides Kristen Douty and June Yurish are no longer employed with the school system, and will not be able to petition for their jobs back under the grievance process.

The school system had repeatedly said they could offer no comment because of the pending litigation, but asks the public to “be patient with the judicial system and legal process” as they work through the matters so the community can heal.

“As community members, parents, and grandparents of children who attend our schools, we share a common goal – to focus on what is best for the students of Berkeley County Schools. We want our community to know we are deeply affected by this event, and focused on ensuring a renewed sense of stability, purpose and engagement in our district. We would also like to thank you for your overwhelming support and concern throughout this difficult time.”

Read the full statement here.

Story by Marsha Chwalik, Panhandle News Network

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