A Florida teacher and two aides were charged last Monday for allegedly abusing three autistic children at the Silver Sands School in Okaloosa County.
Miami Herald reports that teacher Margaret Wolthers, 48, along with aides Carolyn Madison and Diana LaCroix, are accused of blowing a whistle in the ear of an autistic child who wears earphones due to a “low sensory auditory threshold.” As staff members held the child’s arms down, another staff member blew the whistle directly in his ear from around seven inches away, according to Okaloosa County authorities.
“Investigators say on different occasions the teacher and aides ‘intentionally and maliciously’ blew a whistle in the ear of a child with a low sensory auditory threshold who wore earphones to protect him from loud noises,” Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley said during a press conference on Monday.“They also threatened him with a whistle.”
They’re also accused of putting the child and two other autistic children in separate bathrooms, alone with the lights turned off. The suspects allegedly left the kids in the bathrooms for “unreasonable amounts of time.”
The abuse reportedly happened multiple times from September 1 to November 14.
“There was no supervision in the bathroom at the time,” Ashley added. “One student, per witness, was held for 90 minutes in at least one incident. The other two students were held for unreasonable amounts of time…..Classroom aides who witnessed the incidents say the victims would scream and cry when placed in the bathroom.”
Jon Williams, the principal of the school, confirmed that school policy prohibits isolation as a means of punishment for children.
“We in the school district will not the tolerate the action or inaction of any employee that’s not making the right decision when it comes to the health, safety, and welfare of our students,” Williams said.
The suspects were arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse. All three were placed on administrative leave while the investigation continues.
The story is still developing. Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
[Feature Photo: Carolyn Madison (left), Diana LaCroix (middle), and Margaret Wolthers (right)/Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office]