Teach­ers re­moved af­ter charges

Lexington Herald-Leader - - Bluegrass - BY VALARIE HONEYCUTT SPEARS vhon­ey­[email protected]­ald-leader.com

A Lin­coln County High School teacher and two teacher as­sis­tants who were charged with felony sec­ond-de­gree crim­i­nal abuse fol­low­ing an al­ter­ca­tion with a non­ver­bal stu­dent with autism are no longer in the class­room, Lin­coln County Su­per­in­ten­dent Michael Rowe said Thurs­day.

As­sis­tants Janie Hasty and Teresa Spark­man have been fired, ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately, and teacher Re­becca Spur­lock has been re­as­signed to a po­si­tion at the school dis­trict’s stu­dent sup­port cen­ter, es­sen­tially the main dis­trict of­fice, for the rest of the year, Rowe said.

The school dis­trict had com­pleted its ini­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­le­ga­tions of phys­i­cal abuse of the stu­dent, but could not say any­thing more be­cause other agen­cies were still in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

This is at least the fifth in­ci­dent in­volv­ing a teacher drag­ging or lay­ing hands on an autis­tic stu­dent in Ken­tucky since the school year be­gan in Au­gust. The oth­ers, in­volv­ing staff drag­ging stu­dents with autism, were in Fayette, Greenup and Jef­fer­son coun­ties.

Of the three ed­u­ca­tors charged in Lin­coln, only the crim­i­nal sum­mons against Spur­lock was im­me­di­ately avail­able in court records Thurs­day be­cause only she has re­ceived the ci­ta­tion, Lin­coln County At­tor­ney Daryl Day said. Po­lice told Day there was a video of the in­ci­dent, he said.

That sum­mons said the stu­dent was walk­ing around the room of a spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion class on Jan­uary 3 when “Janie



Lin­coln County Su­per­in­ten­dent Michael Rowe

Hasty starts punch­ing at his head, taunt­ing the stu­dent.”

The as­sis­tants had the stu­dent “in the corner on the ground,” the sum­mons said, “Janie twisted his arm and then pulled him up off the ground and shoved him.”

At one point, Spark­man laughed, ac­cord­ing to the sum­mons. When a food cart was brought into the class­room and the stu­dent ap­proached it to get his food, Hasty al­legedly pushed him down, the sum­mon said, and the stu­dent got up by him­self.

The sum­mons said that Spur­lock was stand­ing with eight or nine stu­dents and at no point tried to in­ter­vene or stop the in­ci­dent from hap­pen­ing.

The In­te­rior-Jour­nal in Lin­coln County re­ported that Rowe is­sued a state­ment on Tues­day say­ing “if the in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­firms the al­le­ga­tions, I will be sick­ened and dis­mayed.

“School em­ploy­ees are placed in a po­si­tion of ab­so­lute trust. Stu­dents and their fam­i­lies should al­ways have con­fi­dence in that. We re­al­ize trust within our own sys­tem may have been bro­ken due to the ac­tions of a few. This does not re­flect our staff over­all, and we will work dili­gently to re­gain the trust and con­fi­dence in us,” he said.

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