29ºF

Six Virginia special needs students abused, three staff members fired

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. – Three school employees in Fairfax County, Virginia are facing charges related to the assault of six non-verbal elementary students.

“I’m very happy and I hope you know, this thing is taken very carefully and cautiously and you know that this will never happen to another child," said Sandy Yupari, a parent.

As Yupari picked up her son on Monday afternoon, she learned that three former staff members at freedom hill elementary school are now facing serious charges.

“This case is shocking, unacceptable conduct by community members who are in a position of trust," said major Ed Carrol with Fairfax County Police.

Fairfax County police say instructional support staff members Clymeera Gastav and Cecilia Benavides abused six non-verbal children with intellectual disabilities.

“When I heard about these nonverbal children it really touched my heart so much, because I have a non-verbal child," said Yupari.

Former principal Scott Bloom is also facing charges for failing to report the suspected abuse.

“During the 2018 to 2019 school year," said Carroll.

The investigation started in September when another teacher reported the signs of abuse.

“The teacher observed bruising on a student and contacted school administration and child protective services,” said Carroll.

Fairfax County Public Schools chief operating officer Marty Smith says district staff reviewed abuse reporting laws following the incident.

“There’s no greater responsibility of the school system than the safety and well being of our students and as a result of this tragic situation, we have learned that we need to do more,” said Smith.

“My heart and my prayers go to all the children, every day,” said Yupari.