Al­covy High spe­cial ed teacher charged with cru­elty to chil­dren

Teach­ers al­legedly placed pack­ing tape over, put soap in stu­dent’s mouth

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Michelle Kim

The Al­covy High School spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion teacher and para­pro­fes­sional charged last week with cru­elty to chil­dren were ar­rested for al­legedly putting soap in the mouth of a se­verely hand­i­capped stu­dent and stick­ing pack­ing tape over the mouth of the same stu­dent, ac­cord­ing to war­rants filed by the New­ton County Sher­iff’s Of­fice.

Der­rick Roberts, 27, a spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion teacher for a class of ap­prox­i­mately five se­verely hand­i­capped stu­dents, and para­pro­fes­sional Nanette Surber, 33, were ar­rested March 27 af­ter an­other teacher re­ported wit­ness­ing the in­ci­dents to school au­thor­i­ties.

Both Roberts and Surber were charged with sim­ple bat­tery mis­de­meanor and cru­elty to chil­dren in the first de­gree, a felony. Both were re­leased the same day af­ter pay­ing a $3,000 bond.

War­rants filed by the NCSO charged Roberts with re­peat­edly putting a bar of soap in the mouth of one of his stu­dents, a se­verely hand­i­capped, non­ver­bal 17-year-old. Surber is charged with al­legedly putting pack­ing tape over the stu­dent’s mouth.

Roberts de­clined to com­ment but said a state­ment would soon be avail­able from his at­tor­ney Michael Wa­ters. Surber could not be reached.

NCSO Lt. Bill Wat­ter­son said he was not mak­ing any state­ments about their ac­tions in or­der to pre­serve the pri­vacy of the vic­tim.

Par­ent Rhonda Hall­ford, whose daugh­ter was in Roberts’ class for about two years, said she had wit­nessed Roberts with his fin­ger in her daugh­ter’s face last year when they were in the cafe­te­ria. She re­ported the in­ci­dent to au­thor­i­ties and was as­sured it had been in­ves­ti­gated and that they had taken care of it.

She said she no­ticed the class no longer ate lunch in the cafe­te­ria af­ter that in­ci­dent.

Still, she said the re­cent re­ports were a sur­prise to her.

“Some days, you go in there and it looked like they had had enough,” said Hall­ford. But she pointed out many par­ents felt that way af­ter a long day with their chil­dren.

She said she re­ceived a call from a mem­ber of the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion re­as­sur­ing her that her child was not harmed but only heard about the spe­cific charges later in the news.

New­ton County School Sys­tem di­rec­tor of pub­lic re­la­tions Sherri Viniard said other per­son­nel are cov­er­ing the class dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.



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